Ohio State captured the Big Ten title last night in Indianapolis with a 45-24 victory over No. 21 Northwestern behind a magical performance from quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
The redshirt sophomore was unstoppable throwing for a school and B1G title game record 499 yards and five touchdowns as the Buckeyes offense racked up 607 total yards.
The win secured Urban Meyer's third Big Ten title and comes on the heels of a 62-39 curb-stomping of Michigan last weekend.
We'll have to wait until a little after noon on Sunday to see if the Buckeyes (12-1) did enough to make the College Football Playoff but it seems like an extremely tough putt after No. 5 Oklahoma beat No. 14 Texas.
ESPN's Playoff Predictor has Ohio State definitively in but talking heads like Kirk Herbstreit ain't having it.
All of that stuff is out of Ohio State's control and if a playoff bid isn't in the cards, a Rose Bowl bid is nothing to sneeze at but for now, here are Five Things from the victory over Northwestern.
BIG APPLE BOUND
I think it's pretty safe to say Dwayne Haskins locked up a trip to New York as a Heisman finalist after completing 34-of-41 passes for 499 yards with five touchdowns against one interception in a B1G championship game MVP performance.
It's hard to pick only a couple passes to highlight when the cat completes 83% of his throws but two in particular were absolute dimes.
Facing a 3rd-and-20 from the Wildcats 42, Haskins dropped back and unfurled a teardrop right into the waiting arms of Terry McLaurin for a touchdown giving Ohio State a 24-7 lead late in the second quarter.
Already leading 38-24 late in the fourth quarter, Haskins put a cherry on top of his night with a perfectly placed throw on the run to tailback J.K. Dobbins for a 17-yard score.
Haskins was lethal on third down completing 13-of-14 throws for 176 yards and he hit 10 different receivers on the night.
Over his last three games, Haskins has completed 82 of 110 throws (75%) for a cool 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns against two picks. I repeat, over his last three games, Haskins has completed 82 of 110 throws (75%) for a cool 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns against two picks.
Season-to-date, he's now up to 47 touchdown passes and another four scores on the ground with 4,580 passing yards. Sick.
EVERYBODY LOVES CHRIS
With five catches coming into last week, Chris Olave announced his presence with two 24-yard touchdown catches and a blocked punt that went for a touchdown against Michigan.
Last night against Northwestern, not only did Olave prove last weekend wasn't a fluke but that he's a future star as he posted five receptions for 79 yards and another touchdown.
The score was a clutch one with Ohio State nursing a 24-21 lead. Facing 2nd-and-11 from the Wildcats 29, Olave got free and hauled in a Haskins pass for a 31-21 lead with 1:21 left in the quarter.
Over the last two games, Olave has seven catches for 127 yards and three touchdowns and then of course the blocked punt Sevyn Banks took to the house.
You hate to see a kid like Austin Mack go down with an injury but props to Olave for capitalizing on his chance to get into the rotation. The sky's the limit for this kid.
Sophomore defensive end Chase Young entered last night's game with 11.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and nine quarterback hurries which earned him second-team All-B1G honors.
Young backed up his selection in a dominant performance against Northwestern as he posted three sacks and a forced fumble to key the defensive line's effort in slowing the Wildcats attack.
With Ohio State leading 14-7 in the second quarter, Young came off the edge and strip-sacked Clayton Thorson paving the way for the OSU offense to kick a field goal for a 17-7 lead with 6:09 left before halftime.
In the third quarter, with the Buckeyes clinging to a 24-21 advantage, Young again cornered on rails for a 2nd-and-11 sack forcing the Wildcats further off schedule leading to a punt. Once the Buckeyes offense regained possession, it scored six plays later to take a 31-21 lead.
Finally, Young added a sack with OSU leading 45-24 late in the fourth quarter leading to a Northwestern punt allowing the Buckeyes to run out the clock.
Hell of a game from a kid that along with Dre'Mont Jones had to elevate his game all year to pick up for Nick Bosa's slack.
O-H CAPTAINS, MY CAPTAINS
We aren't that far removed from Zone Six being the most-maligned position group on the team but that seems like decades ago thanks to the production and leadership from senior captains Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon.
All three showed out tonight led by seven catches, 129 yards and a touchdown on nine targets from Dixon. His 9-yard connection with Haskins put the Buckeyes up 38-24 with 9:11 left in regulation.
Campbell, after roasting Michigan for 192 yards and two scores, added seven receptions for 89 yards on eight targets against the Wildcats putting him just eight yards shy of becoming only the fourth Buckeye to record 1,000 receiving yards in a single-season.
Finally, McLaurin was a huge factor with three catches for 78 yards and a pair of scores on three targets. McLaurin opened the scoring via a 16-yard hookup with Haskins and later hauled in a 42-yard dime putting Ohio State in front 24-7 just before halftime.
On the night, the trio notched 17 grabs for 296 yards and three touchdowns on 20 targets. #not-bad.
In order for the Buckeyes to have a real shot at the College Football Playoff, the experts made it clear they'd presumably need to carpet-bomb the Wildcats on both sides of the ball. The offense did its part and the defense was great in the first half before falling off a bit in the second half.
The first half saw Greg Schiano's crew give up just 160 yards with 77 of those coming on one play meaning the other 26 plays went for an average of 3.2 yards.
In Northwestern's seven possessions spanning the opening 30 minutes, the defense forced four 3-and-outs and came up with two turnovers while holding the Wildcats to 2-of-7 on third down conversions.
Malik Harrison (4 tackles), Shaun Wade (INT), Young (sack, FF, QBH) and Dre'Mont Jones (sack) led the way as Ohio State took a 24-7 lead into the locker room.
The second half was a different story however as the defense surrendered back-to-back touchdown drives of 75 and 85-yards allowing Northwestern to cut the Buckeye lead to 24-21 with 8:03 left in the third quarter.
The defense stiffened sharply from there, allowing only a field goal the rest of the way, but on a night when Ohio State seemingly needed a near-perfect performance across the board, that proved too high a ceiling as the Wildcats posted 17 points and 258 total yards over the final two quarters.
That's a bit of splitting hairs but that's what the committee spent all night doing. Did Ohio State do enough to sway the committee? We'll find out shortly after noon.