Five minutes into Friday's game, Northwestern faced an insurmountable hurdle. A seven-point deficit to Ohio State.
The Buckeyes, behind a 24-point second quarter, finished off the Wildcats for a resounding 52-3 win at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois.
As has come to be the norm this season, everything went Ohio State's way. Justin Fields tossed four touchdowns, and Ohio State had 279 yards on the ground. Northwestern completed six passes for 42 yards, and it averaged 3.3 yards per carry.
That means there's a lot more Stock Up than Stock Down once again this week.
Ohio State's running backs
J.K. Dobbins ran for 121 yards and a touchdown with three catches for 30 yards and a receiving score. Master Teague had seven carries for 96 yards and a touchdown. Even Marcus Crowley had a 53-yard run.
Collectively, those three running backs combined for 27 carries for 270 yards, an average of 10 yards per carry.
Much of their success can be attributed to an offensive line that has clicked, even though it has been hit with injuries at offensive tackle. Regardless of which five linemen have been in the game at any given time, they have opened up plenty of holes for the backs.
But the players toting the ball deserve credit, too. Dobbins is running with greater urgency and power than ever before. Teague has developed into a consistent backup who might deserve more touches than he has received – though it's tough to justify taking too many carries away from Dobbins, the starter. Crowley has even shown promise in late-game situations.
For a position that had worrisome depth entering the year, that's no longer a hovering issue. The Buckeyes have a top-shelf back running at his peak – Dobbins – and can complement him with Teague whenever necessary.
Touchdown, Master Teague. pic.twitter.com/J1UU0bktU2— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) October 19, 2019
Harrison and Jordan Fuller ended the 2018 season tied for the team lead in tackles, and after seven games in 2019 they're once again tied with a team-high 37 tackles.
Harrison led the Buckeyes with nine total tackles, including half of a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry, on Friday. Northwestern, like the six prior teams Ohio State had faced, couldn't find consistency on the ground with 3.3 yards per carry, and Harrison played a large part in that.
Against Michigan State, Olave was targeted but he didn't have a catch. By the end of the first half of Friday's game versus the Wildcats, he had a pair of touchdowns.
Olave's first score was the first touchdown of the game, and his second came amid Ohio State's 24-point second quarter.
Everything about this was perfect. pic.twitter.com/HADcLgCiIZ— Eleven Warriors (@11W) October 19, 2019
Olave led the Buckeyes with five total receptions for 60 yards on Friday.
With the way the Buckeyes run their offense, nobody will become Fields' clear-cut No. 1 target. He spreads the ball around among five wide receivers. But Olave, who now has a team-best six receiving touchdowns, has a knack for the impactful play.
For whatever reason, Munford sometimes gets overlooked. But on a team with its top-performing offensive line in years, he might be the best of the bunch. For that reason, his absence from the starting lineup on Saturday due to a nagging injury was cause for a bit of apprehension.
Nicholas Petit-Frere got the start at left tackle in place of Munford and played well initially but then got beat a few times, leading to Munford unexpectedly entering the game. Before Petit-Frere took over once again with the result already essentially determined, Munford played significant snaps.
Munford has battled quite a few injuries over the past two years but has missed minimal game action. If there's a way he can get on the field, Munford usually finds it.
If anybody wanted to try to find something wrong with Ohio State in the first six games, they might have settled on the kicking game. Haubeil had gone 5-for-7 on field-goal attempts to open the season, and his kickoffs weren't always going where he wanted them.
Given the flawless nature of the Buckeyes thus far, it shouldn't have been surprising that Haubeil turn doubters into believers just before halftime of Friday's game when he nailed a 55-yard attempt. He's now tied for the second-longest field goal in program history.
In an alternate universe, all 6-foot-8, 380 pounds of Jones are in the middle of preseason practices with Kent State's basketball team. A year ago, he nearly gave up football to pursue a future in hoops with the Golden Flashes. At his size, he surely could've carved out a niche dunking on the rest of the MAC.
Instead, Jones made his debut on the offensive line with Ohio State on Saturday, and it could not have gone much better. On his first career offensive snap, he made a key block to spring Teague for a 73-yard touchdown.
As Northwestern found out, it's difficult to avoid getting moved by somebody as large as Jones, who was helped by left guard Matthew Jones. Dawand Jones' block – and his ensuing celebration – quickly circled around social media. Former Ohio State receiver Cris Carter sent out a tweet declaring Jones as one of his favorite Buckeyes.
Most importantly, though, once the noise began to die down, Jones let the world know of four nicknames, and they're all fitting.
Also my nicknames are:— Dawand Jones (@dawand_jones) October 19, 2019
Jones looked at Thanos, sized him up and thought, "Yes, but even bigger."
Beyond his social media fame and nicknames, though, it's worth mentioning that Jones getting on the field as a true freshman wasn't expected. He was a late addition to the Buckeyes' 2019 recruiting class, and as the No. 1,043 overall prospect and 86th-ranked offensive tackle in the cycle, he was the lowest-rated Ohio State signee.
The prevailing thought was Jones would spend his first year getting into shape as a long-term development project. That's still largely true – he shouldn't factor into any meaningful offensive line snaps this season – but him playing at all on the line this season shows he has progressed more quickly than expected.
There went the top-six matchup that was to be viewed nationally as a measuring-stick opportunity for the Buckeyes. The Badgers will still be a ranked opponent after losing to Illinois, but they're no longer undefeated, putting a damper on next weekend's matchup.
Wisconsin hasn't lost back-to-back games since falling to Michigan and Ohio State consecutively in 2016. That could change on Saturday.
Perhaps the best post-game interview moment was #Illini LB Jake Hansen walking into the interview room with a cigar, yelling "31 point spread, huh?"— Shannon Ryan (@sryantribune) October 19, 2019
"It's a big F you," he said of the validation of upsetting No. 6 Wisconsin 24-23.
Three months ago, Michigan was voted as the favorite to win the Big Ten in the unofficial cleveland.com preseason media poll. It received 20 of the 34 first-place votes in the Big Ten East, putting the Wolverines ahead of Ohio State, which was picked to finish second.
After losing to Penn State on Saturday, Michigan appears destined to finish no better than third in the division.
Jim Harbaugh's team will have to regroup to face Notre Dame next weekend, and it still has Michigan State and Ohio State on its schedule. Harbaugh hasn't lost fewer than three games in a season while coaching the Wolverines, and it's hard to imagine that changing.
The Chance Ohio State Gets Tested In The Regular Season
We've been waiting for somebody to test Ohio State every single week.
Can Cincinnati challenge the Buckeyes? Will Nebraska's offense pose a threat? Can Mark Dantonio's Michigan State defense stymie Justin Fields and the Buckeyes?
The answer to all those questions was the same: No.
Ohio State now has an average margin of victory of 41.7 points, which leads the country. Only one team in the past 15 years – Florida State in 2013 – has ended the season with an average margin of victory that high.
Wisconsin was supposed to buck the trend of blowouts. But after losing to Illinois, it's now a 14.5-point underdog to Ohio State. Penn State and Michigan remain on the schedule as top-25 opponents. Can any of them finally give the Buckeyes a game?