Saturday marked the end to Ohio State's 2018 Big Ten campaign. Northwestern played the Buckeyes tough, and it almost seemed as if the Wildcats were going to be able to complete a rally in the third quarter. However, Ohio State turned things back on in the fourth quarter, squashing any hopes of a Northwestern comeback. In the end, it was another trip to Indianapolis, and another Big Ten Championship for the Ohio State Buckeyes. How did Ohio State come out on top in this years Big Ten Championship game? Read on for the three key statistics that led to Saturday's outcome.
Buckeye rushing attack struggles with 2.3 yards per rush
Clearly, Northwestern had done its homework.
It has been no secret that outside for a few select games, the Buckeye rushing attack has struggled. The Wildcats took advantage of that fact on Saturday. On 46 attempts, the Ohio State offense was only able to generate 108 rushing yards, with a dismal 2.3 yards per carry. J.K. Dobbins was the leading rusher with 17 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown.
While it may have been frustrating to watch Ohio State struggle to rush the ball all night, it served its purpose of making the passing game that much more dangerous. It would have been much more satisfying to watch a slightly more successful Buckeye rushing attack, but if it allows the passing game to operate at a high level, two or three yard rushes aren't the end of the world.
Buckeyes win the possession battle to prevent Northwestern comeback
Outside of supplementing the passing game, running the ball also helped Ohio State hold on to the ball for nearly 12 more minutes than the Wildcats. In a game in which Northwestern was almost continuously trying to rally, this was crucial. At times, the Wildcat offense seemed potent, marching down the field with ease on more than a few occasions. Ohio State's long, methodical drives served almost as a counter to Northwestern's short, explosive bursts.
Eventually, the Wildcat defense was worn down enough to run up the score, and the Buckeye defense was able to make the correct adjustments to contain the Northwestern offense. It may not be the most flashy statistic, but winning the time of possession was crucial to the Ohio State victory on Saturday.
Dwayne Haskins explodes once again, tallies 499 yards and five touchdowns
You've heard this story before: Dwayne Haskins was dominant.
Going 34-41 with 499 yards and 5 touchdowns, Haskins set Big Ten football championship game records for passing yards, completions, and touchdowns Saturday night. The Wildcats simply had no answer for the dominant Buckeye signal caller. Whenever Ohio State needed a big play, Haskins was there. Whether he was throwing five yards for a third down conversion, or throwing the ball 50 yards down the field for a big play, Haskins was there.
This was more than a dominant championship game performance, this was an exclamation mark on a Heisman worthy season. Haskins has been a statistical beast all season. It proved to be the difference on Saturday, and it seems likely he will be acknowledged for his abilities with a trip to New York. Anything less than that would be criminal.