Taking the show on the road: Northwestern Preview

osuHelmetThe Ohio State Buckeyes are coming off of a huge win last Saturday night against the Wisconsin Badgers. It was by far their best win of the season. The buildup was immense for a late September game and the result was an emotional victory. Many times, after a team gets up one week for a big game on national television, they struggle to show up the following week.

I don’t expect that to be the case for this Buckeye team this weekend under the lights against Northwestern. For one, the players pay attention to the media and know that College Game day will be in Evanston on Saturday. The game at Ryan Field is slated for primetime on ABC just like last week. Not to mention, this is the biggest game Northwestern has played in since the 1995 Rose Bowl (may even be biggest game in NU history). Simply not showing up, will not be an option for Ohio State.

After completing 68% of his passes with four touchdowns, Braxton Miller is poised for another huge game against the Northwestern defense. Miller silenced the “start Kenny G” critics and looks to do the same again this week as he is full strength. It’s important for Miller and the offense to get off to a good start like they’ve been doing over the course of this season. Ohio State doesn’t need the purple crowd in Evanston to have a reason to get rowdy (Keep in mind, I’ll be in the stadium sporting my scarlet Buckeye gear). I think if Northwestern gets off to a good start, they’ll be in the game for 60 minutes. If Ohio State gets off to a good start, I think they eventually pull away in the second half.

There is no doubt; the Wildcats will see a heavy dose of Carlos Hyde in the backfield for the Buckeyes. The question is, how much will Herman and Meyer get Jordan Hall involved this week. Surprisingly, he was barely used last week after racking up 8 touchdowns in the first 4 games. Whoever the Buckeyes choose to give the ball to, I don’t think it will matter. The offensive line should be able to push Northwestern around and open up some holes as the game progresses. If the running game gets going early, it will open up the passing game for guys like Devin Smith and Philly Brown. I like Ohio State’s offense all day against Northwestern’s mediocre defense.

While Ohio State enjoys a huge advantage when their offense is on the field, I don’t think they can say the same when their defense is out there. While Ohio State was able to shut down Wisconsin’s run game, I think Northwestern’s attack will be tougher to stop. The ability to display two different quarterbacks with an array of different skills is impressive. Kain Colter is a true dual threat who is more dangerous with his legs than he is his arm. He has averaged over 6 yards a carry this season. Trevor Siemian is a more imposing figure in the pocket with a strong arm. His big strength is throwing the ball. He has already racked up 671 passing yards in part time duty.

In order for Ohio State to slow down this offense, they first must find a replacement for Safety Christian Bryant. Bryant’s season ending ankle injury in the second to last play of the game last week hurts the Buckeyes. His leadership and big play ability on the back end of their defense was huge. Now it’s time to see how the Buckeyes can respond. If the Buckeyes can make the Wildcats one dimensional like they did to Wisconsin, they will be successful. If the Wildcats can mix and match the run and pass with equal effectiveness, the Buckeyes could be in for a dog fight (or cat fight in this case).

In the end, I like the Buckeyes to remain unbeaten and move to 6-0 entering their bye week. It won’t be easy, but as the game wears on and the Buckeyes start to dominate the trenches, the margin will widen. Time for Ohio State to prove they can take the show on the road under the lights and in primetime. This might be one of their last chances to show the nation how good they really are.

Comments

  1. Northwestern’s defense, especially their secondary, is in for a fight. They definitely have the “bend-don’t-break” feel to them, but they give up chunks of yards through the air. I think Braxton is going to have a field day.

  2. Chris Kuhner says

    I hope you’re right. If he does, Ohio State will roll. Northwestern’s defense will be a “bend-and-break” defense!

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