On a night in Evanston, Illinois that won’t soon be forgotten, it was the forgotten man, Carlos Hyde, who came up huge for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Hyde’s 168 yards and 3 touchdowns were the difference for the Buckeyes as they beat the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field, 40-30. The stage was set for an upstart Northwestern program to show the country they had arrived.
However, the Buckeyes weren’t to be denied. They weren’t ready to give up their spot amongst the Big Ten’s elite. The game felt like a pendulum, swinging back and forth effortlessly. Sometimes it was swinging towards Ohio State and sometimes toward Northwestern. As a Buckeye fan in the stands, the energy in the stadium was electric. At times, I felt like we were in Columbus. Then a moment later, Northwestern’s play on the field reminded me we were in Evanston. As the night pushed forward, I could tell there was some magic in the air. I was just hoping it was scarlet and gray magic and not purple and black.
When I watch a game, I always look at the offensive and defensive line play. Typically, if one team dominates both sides of the ball they will win. I got that feeling with Ohio State Saturday night. They were dominating both the offensive and defensive line but not the scoreboard. Every time Ohio State did something well, Northwestern answered. The Wildcats created 3 turnovers and hadn’t committed any meaningful penalties until well into the 3rd quarter. The recipe for an upset had been written and the Wildcats were following it like they were watching Bobby Flay on HGTV.
It was starting to look dicey enough that Coach Meyer contemplated putting in Kenny Guiton at quarterback in replace of Braxton Miller. Meyer stuck with Miller and he ended up 15 of 26 for 203 yards, 1 interception and no touchdowns. Northwestern even caused the Ohio State signal caller to fumble in two key situations. Once in the 1st quarter deep in Ohio State territory and once in the 2nd half as Miller was lunging for a touchdown.
On the other hand, the Ohio State defensive line had a monster game. They held the Wildcats under 100 yards rushing and sacked the Northwestern QB’s a combined 5 times. The silver bullets also held the Wildcats under 50% on 3rd down conversions. The secondary on the other hand, struggled throughout most of the game. It seemed like whenever Northwestern wanted to hit a 10-12 yard out, they could. Roby seemed to be a step or two behind the whole game and Pitt Brown appeared to be lost at times. C.J. Barnett had a monster game and held the secondary together throughout the night. Doran Grant made the biggest play of the night, as he intercepted a pass in the 2nd half deep in Northwestern territory that swung the game back to Ohio State.
On a day that started out on the banks of Lake Michigan for ESPN’s College Gameday, it ended on a rain soaked field under the Ryan Field lights. Victory was captured and the halfway point in the season had been reached. The Buckeyes proved one more time why they are the Big Ten’s elite team. I’m just glad I was there to witness such a magical night.