Ohio State announced right before kickoff they would be without 22 players, including WR Chris Olave. Ohio State did not provide details about absences, but ESPN's Adam Rittenberg reported that the Buckeyes registered multiple positive Covid test results.
Ohio State's Offense Was Inefficient and Not Impressive
Whether it was the loss of players due to Covid or not, Ohio State's performance was their least efficient of the season. Ohio State entered the game averaging 46.6 points a game and came away with a season-low 22.
Fields failed to connect and build a rhythm in the passing game throwing two INT's. Ohio State struggled to finish drives entering the red zone 7 times, coming away with only 19 points.
9 Yards And A Cloud of Dust
Ohio State would find success on the ground. Down 10-6 in the third QTR, Ryan Day decided that the best course of action to win the game would be on the ground. In addition to struggling, Justin Fields injured his thumb earlier in the game, so the run game would need to be a priority, and it was.
Big Ten Title MVP
Ohio State pounded the Wildcats in the run game to the tune of 399 yds, 305 of which came in the 2nd half. RB Trey Sermon broke Eddie George's Ohio State single-game rushing record, amassing 331 rush yds on 29 carries, averaging 11.4 yds per tote.
Fields Struggled, But Ohio State Finds A Way to Win
Ohio State found a way to win, albeit not how they are used to doing it. Justin Fields was 12-27 passing, with 114 yds and 2 INT's. Fields will need to play better moving forward, especially if they face Clemson or Notre Dame in the college football playoff.
Northwestern's Defense is Legitimate
Led by their defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz, a former Michigan Grad Assistant in the early 70's under Bo Schembechler, the Wildcats were opportunistic. At times, the Wildcats had success getting pressure on Justin fields, sacking him three times, and forcing him off his spot and into bad throws. The Wildcat defense has been excellent this season, keeping everything in front of them in 2020.
The Wildcats tackle well, fly to the football, and in this game, they forced turnovers that kept them in within a score throughout. But Ohio State found a way to break the will of the Wildcats via the run game.
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