Northwestern could grow its grass knee high for all I care, it ain't going to stop what's coming tonight.
I've heard the warnings and the talking points. I know their entire defense is back this year. I know they held Wisconsin under 300 total yards. I know they're trying to summon some primetime road game demons with those black uniforms. But that's supposed to convince me that the Northwestern offense can keep it even moderately close tonight?
Shit, it'll hurt my soul if the they score more than once.
Their offense is about as threatening as a four-year-old with a foam sword. They rank dead-ass last in yards per play, dead-ass last in offensive touchdowns, and second-to-last in points per game. And there's not really any help in sight.
They even tried the "snag a blue-chip transfer quarterback" hustle that's sweeping the nation, but naturally, they blew that as well. He's just 43-of-89 through the air for 367 yards, with one touchdown and four interceptions.
Looking at the offense alone, the Wildcats are basically just Rutgers, but purple and probably worse.
The most damaging thing Northwestern is equipped to hit Ohio State with is a rejection letter, but I promise that's not going to protect their football team tonight. At least the grass will be long enough to hide any bodies.
But hey, defense! Am I right?
Here's your pregame fix:
- REMINDER: The game will be on BTN.
- Five things to know about Northwestern.
- Nicholas Petit-Frere could start at left tackle.
- Baron Browning is out, and Thayer Munford is a game-time decision.
- Some creative ways for Northwestern to even the matchup.
- Justin Fields feels better after a bye week.
- Shaun Wade is focused on the present.
- Ohio State's history of playing on Friday night.
- Across the field interview with Noah Coffman.
- Game poster.
- Game trailer.
- The situational.
- Our picks against the spread.
Word of the Day: Annihilation.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF NORTHWESTERN BETTORS. If you were on either end of this one, you'll never forget it, but for those of you who didn't dabble in the "number crunching," as Bent Musburger puts it, the last time the Buckeyes visited Ryan Field, they hit Northwestern backers with one of the most legendary bad beats of all time.
Take special note that the closing line was Ohio State -6.5 points.
“And you know what? There are some folks who are celebrating, and some who are saying 'you've got to be kidding me.'”
Forget Holy Buckeye, *that* is the most legendary Musburger call in Ohio State football history. And for some, it was a heartbreaking reminder to
refrain from gambling place your hard-earned money on the Buckeyes.
THE INCOMPARABLE, POV. You won't find a Buckeye fan who hasn't at least pondered what it's like to high step behind the the drum major, draped in a sousaphone in front of 100,000 fans at the climax of one of the most iconic traditions in college sports.
Folks, this is about as close as we're gonna get.
Now some hero just needs to figure out how to work that view into a VR headset and take my money.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. If you're salty that the Buckeyes are playing on Friday night, you certainly ain't the only one. There's a solid chance that many high school athletic programs across the state take a serious financial hit because of it.
From Kyle Rowland of The Toledo Blade:
The shiver that went down Chuck Jaco’s spine that afternoon wasn’t because of the temperature. No, the Perrysburg athletic director heard what he thought had to be a false report and then looked at the October 2019 calendar.
Ohio State’s 8:30 p.m. Friday game at Northwestern was the Yellow Jackets’ senior night.
“When they announced it, I thought, ‘What? Ohio State can’t be playing on a Friday,’” Jaco recalled. “And then I looked at the schedule, and I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s our last home game of the year.’"
But the school already had one home date severely impacted by weather, and it just so happened to be Anthony Wayne, the biggest game of the season. Pre-sale tickets netted $10,000, but a deluge of rain resulted in virtually zero walk-ups on a night Jaco estimates the gate would have been at least $25,000. The $15,000 loss represents the entire spring budget.
Jaco hopes Friday isn’t a repeat. Rather than staying home, he hopes fans purchase a ticket and bring their earbuds to listen to the Buckeyes. If 200 people opt to stay home, at $7 per ticket, $1,400 is the cost of a team’s uniforms.
“We’ve got some die-hard Buckeye fans, and they were on a bye week,” Jaco said. “No one is going to want to miss them two weeks in a row. I think it’s going to have a considerable dent in our gate.”
My consumption of Ohio State football is more comparable to addictive recreational drugs than it is standard consumer goods. You could put the game on at 2:30 in the morning and charge me $30 an hour to stream it in standard definition and my sorry ass would be glued to the screen watching Chis Chugunov dump the ball off to Steele Chambers with 3:40 left to play in the fourth quarter.
I'm going to watch the game tonight, and whatever other obligations I might have had are simply taking a backseat. I'm sure that's the mentality of many, many Ohioans today. Fox knows they have most Ohio State fans by the balls, and it's bullshit that they're taking advantage of that to make a bit of extra coin from a national audience at the expense of high school athletic programs.
BETS OF LUCK, MICHIGAN. I love Penn State's white out exactly every other year, and folks, this is one of those years.
The Wolverines have fumbled an astounding 17 times in six games. I'm sure that will work out delightfully for them in Happy Valley.
STILL TRUCKING. Once again, there's no game on Saturday, so there will be no Saturday Skull Session. That means my losing picks come to you a day early, once again.
Last week, Michigan (a 22-point favorite) went up 28-0 in the first half and fumbled its way to a 17-point win in which it hit victory formation with the ball on the Illinois 12-yard line, and Oklahoma looked like it was shaving points the entire first half.
It hurt a bit, but we're still alive. I went 3-4 for a marginal losing week after back-to-back marginal winning weeks to bring my total to 22-29-1 on my fight to get above .500 after starting the season 1-9.
We're gonna get there, and this week is another step.
- Ohio State -27 against Northwestern. I'll be honest, this is the only Ohio State line this year that's given me any sort of pause, because it just feels too big against a good defense on the road. But to cover this spread, Northwestern is going to have to score, and I just don't see that happening more than like, once. If Ohio State can score 38ish points, I think it's a cover. But I could easily see the Buckeyes hitting the 45-50 point range as well.
- South Carolina vs Florida UNDER 48. Neither of these teams have any interest in scoring, and I think both are pretty emotionally exhausted from big outcomes – one way or the other – last week. My lone concern here are defensive touchdowns, but if that's just a risk I'm going to have to take.
- Wisconsin -31 against Illinois. This line opened at like 27 and has climbed three points, but I'm not sure you could give me enough points to take Illinois in this game, so Wisconsin laying 31 is just fine. The Illini rush defense is just atrocious, giving up 300 rushing yards to Michigan last week. Now, they face Jonathan Taylor with a much better defense on the other side. This is going to be ugly.
- West Virginia +34 against Oklahoma. It's too many points. Look, I thought West Virginia was one of the worst offensive teams I've ever seen at the beginning of the season, but since week two they're averaging almost 30 points a game, including 44 against NC State and 31 against Texas. Oklahoma's defense is a lot better this season, but it's still leaky. I think West Virginia can score two or three touchdowns, and that should be enough to get a cover against an Oklahoma team coming off its biggest win of the season.
- Louisville +24.5 against Clemson. I already regret this pick because with the talent on Clemson's roster this could easily be 28-0 at the end of the first quarter, but I've gotten serious 2015 Ohio State/2014 Florida State vibes from this Clemson team this year, and I could see a decently talented Louisville team hanging around against a Clemson team that's prone to sleepwalk.
- Oregon State +11 against California. The secret is that Cal is not actually very good and has no business being a double digit favorite against anybody, especially without Chase Garbers. I'm not saying the Beavers are world beaters here, but they've proven they can at least score a few points, and that should be enough to keep this within two scores.
- Washington +3 against Oregon. I feel like Washington should actually be the team favored in this game. I know they have losses against teams I think are legit bad (Cal and Stanford) but they also quietly have one of the most talented rosters in the country led by Chris Petersen, who I think is a very good coach. In a premier home game with what I believe is the overall talent edge, I'm riding with the Huskies.
- Baylor and Oklahoma State UNDER 68.5. This total would have made sense in 2013, but not this year. It's way too high. This ain't Art Briles' Baylor team. The Bears want no part of a shootout this year. I know Oklahoma State is going to want to play a high-scoring, uptempo game, but it's going to take two parties to get a total that high and I just don't see it from Baylor.
- Arizona State +14 against Utah. You're giving Herm too many points. Utah's a solid team, but the Sun Devils have proven they can do just about anything to keep a game close – trading punts with Michigan State and trading touchdowns with Washington State. I think Utah wins, but Arizona State has a knack for keeping games really close – for better or for worse.
- Penn State -9 against Michigan. I play this with a healthy bit of skepticism because I don't really trust either of these teams, but I trust fumble-prone Michigan on the road in whiteout conditions against a quality opponent significantly less. There's a chance Michigan keeps it close, but I think there's a better chance they absolutely crumble. So I'll pick that.
NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. A brainless blob that learns and sleeps is on display at the Paris zoo... The hunt for Japan’s ghost wolves... Your next vacation may be virtual... The little-known "slow fire" that's destroying all of our books... The US Army is building a cannon that can shoot from New York City to Nashville... A company is paying folks $1,000 to watch 30 Disney movies in 30 days...