Coming off an open week, Ohio State started a bit slow leading just 7-3 after the first quarter but the Buckeyes scored 45 unanswered points from there on the way to a 52-3 thrashing of Northwestern in Ryan Field.
The win improved Ryan Day's squad to 7-0 on the season, setting up a monster clash with Wisconsin next Saturday at noon.
Ohio State's defense overwhelmed a putrid Northwestern offense holding the Wildcats to 42 yards through the air on 6-of-21 passing and 157 rushing yards on 3.3 per carry. For the sixth time in seven games, the Buckeye defense held its opponent to 10 points or less.
Meanwhile, Day's offense averaged 7.6 yards per play with eight of 15 yards or more including three rushing plays over 50 yards.
With an extra day of rest to prepare for the Badgers, Day and company will be eager to turn the page but before we shift our focus to the date with Wisconsin, here are Five Things from last night's blowout of Northwestern.
BIG PLAY J.K.
J.K. Dobbins continued his resurgent 2019 with 18 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown in a little more than one half of action.
Dobbins now has 947 yards through seven games on 7.1 yards per carry with seven touchdowns. Last year, Dobbins hit the 947-yard mark in game 12 against Michigan.
It was slow sledding early with Dobbins' first nine carries generating 22 yards as Northwestern's front held its own against Ohio State's offensive line. But as we've seen in virtually every game this season, Dobbins would eventually find a crease and rip off a big play. This time, it was a 68-yard burst on his tenth carry of the night. The run gave Ohio State 1st-and-Goal at the Wildcat 5 yard line and Dobbins would score on the next snap to make it 21-3 Buckeyes.
J.K. Dobbins is dangerous. pic.twitter.com/HhcPFXRQ2f— Eleven Warriors (@11W) October 19, 2019
After averaging 4.6 yards per carry last year and struggling to generate chunk plays, Dobbins has been a big play machine through the first seven games this season.
Dobbins has one run of at least 25 yards in every game except the opener against Florida Atlantic and before last night's 68-yarder, he had a 67-yarder versus Michigan State, a 56-yard jaunt in Bloomington and a 60-yarder against Cincinnati.
Behind those big plays, Dobbins has now rushed for over 100 yards in five of seven games after eclipsing the century mark just three times in 14 games last season.
MALIK'S A FREAK
Malik Harrison didn't get the credit he deserved last year because the defense was trash overall and the linebackers not named Harrison generated so much angst that some of it unfairly drifted his way. That said, he tied Jordan Fuller for the team lead in tackles with 81 and slotted fourth with 8.5 tackles for loss.
This year he's been even better and last night was the latest example as he posted a team-high nine stops with 0.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. Six of his nine tackles held Northwestern to three yards or less.
With last night's output, Harrison's 37 stops are tied with Fuller for the team lead while his 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks slot just behind the 10.5 and 9.5, respectively, from Chase Young.
Young and Jeff Okudah get much of the pub among Ohio State's defensive players, and deservedly so, but Harrison is also having a hell of a season even if he's not getting as much ink as he deserves.
It was another ho-hum outing for Justin Fields as he connected on 18-of-23 throws for 194 yards and four touchdowns without an interception.
Fields now has 22 touchdown passes with another eight scores on the ground for 30 total touchdowns in seven games.
Every game, you can pick out a few things to highlight but for me, what stood out last night was his work on third down in the first half.
On Ohio State's first possession, Fields converted a 3rd-and-8 with a 10-yard scramble. A few plays later, this time on 3rd-and-7, Fields came to the line, saw something he liked and hurriedly audibled to an inside running play to Dobbins who promptly moved the chains.
Checking out of what was likely a pass play to dial up a run on 3rd-and-7 is pretty heady stuff for a kid making his seventh start. Later on the drive, Fields would connect with Chris Olave on a 20-yard score to make it 7-0 good guys.
Two possessions later, Fields again punished the Wildcats on third down. Looking at a 3rd-and-15, Fields zig-zagged around pressure - all with his eyes down the field - and uncorked a 20-yard strike to K.J. Hill to move the chains. Later on the drive, facing 3rd-and-9, Fields threw a dart to Olave running an out route for 14 yards and another first down.
Three plays later, he hit Dobbins out of the backfield for a 19-yard touchdown pushing Ohio State's lead to 14-3.
Just a heck of a performance on third down as Ohio State was in the process of building its first half lead.
BLAKE WITH THE BIG MAKE
Last week I noted one of the very few areas on concern so far this year was Blake Haubeil connecting on 5-of-7 field goals with misses coming from 32 and 37 yards. This was on the heels of Haubeil making 10-of-13 last year, or 77%, which was the 50th-best accuracy rate in the country.
Last night, Haubeil drilled a career-long 55-yard field goal as the first half clock expired giving Ohio State a 31-3 lead.
YOURE DAMN RIGHT WERE WATCHING KICKING HIGHLIGHTS ON REPEAT. pic.twitter.com/nEpA0OXKIn— Eleven Warriors (@11W) October 19, 2019
It wasn't a pressure kick which is something he has rarely been called upon to do but a 55-yarder is a 55-yarder and hats off to the kid for absolutely drilling it.
Only Tom Sklandany has a longer make in school history (59 yards in 1975). Haubeil's boot ties him with Mike Nugent (twice), Dan Stultz and Gary Cairns for the second-longest field goal in school annals.
The big connection should give Day, Haubeil and his teammates a boost a confidence in the kicking game as Ohio State heads into what could be its first close game of the season next weekend against the Badgers.
BAYER FOR THAYER
Dinged against Michigan State, left tackle Thayer Munford didn't miss a series against the Spartans as Ohio State racked up 323 rushing yards.
Even with an open date last weekend to heal, Munford was not in the starting lineup against the Wildcats. Typically, redshirt senior Josh Alabi would start in Munford's place but he was also injured and didn't make the trip.
As such, sophomore Nicholas Petit-Frere, who has largely practiced as the backup right tackle, made his first start in Munford's place. Petit-Frere got off to a real rocky start, so much so that Munford was forced to play the majority of the second quarter despite a noticeable limp. As Ohio State's lead widened, Petit-Frere reentered and looked to be a little more comfortable the rest of the way.
That said, Munford is this team's best tackle by a huge margin and probably the best offensive lineman overall. Having to play without him against Wisconsin, and instead rely on Alabi or Petit-Frere, would likely be a very bad situation for Ohio State. (Also, I see you, Dawand Jones. Nice effort late in the game, big fella.)