The BIG10 4-Peat Is Complete

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In a roller-coaster type of year, the Buckeyes were nearly held out of visiting Indianapolis due to a rule that required teams to play a minimum of six games to play in the Big Ten Conference Championship game. Flash forward after the decision (a terrible one at that!) the Buckeyes face a familiar opponent in the Northwestern Wildcats, an opponent who stood in the way of their second consecutive shot at the conference crown. Now, two years later these two teams will face each other again for the title of Big Ten Champs and another tough battle against a solid defensive-driven team.

The Buckeyes and Justin Fields took it straight down the field on their opening possession and took it in for a touchdown, but a holding call by Harry Miller quickly negated it and the Buckeyes settled for three. They Buckeyes took a lot of time off the clock and Northwestern responded with six in a drive that took 2:32. The Buckeyes began to look sluggish as time went on with questionable play-calling that resulted in a pair of Buckeye punts before they surrendered a field goal to put the Wildcats up 10-3. The Buckeyes kicked it for three and forced a punt, but Fields was picked off before the half came to a close.

To open the second half, Justin Hilliard picked of Ramsey, and Fields was picked off for the second time in a game that he largely struggled in. The Buckeyes forced a punt and both teams had shots at points, but they both missed their respective shots at additional points to keep the contest at 10-6. The Buckeyes came alive as Trey Sermon channeled his inner Zeke and they fed him in what became a career game for him as a ran past Eddie George’s record that has stood for quite some time until today. Sermon finished with 29 carries and a Big Ten/Conference Championship FBS record 331 yards and 2 TDs.

Sermon and the Buckeye defense stepped it up in the second half. After Sermon went off the defense responded with timely turnovers that turned the tide. For context, the Buckeyes surrendered 167 yards on 5 Northwestern offensive possessions. In the second half, they had 7 total offensive possessions and they surrendered 181 yards. Yes, they gave up a little more yardage, but couldn’t get into position to score. The second half adjustments worked and it showed how resilient this team is when the pressure is right in front of them.

This was not a perfect game for Justin Fields, but maybe it is what he needs to move forward. He seemed to sprain his throwing hand thumb and that might be a story to follow as we move forward. For now, we have to enjoy the gutty win minus the gaudy offensive passing stats. Another off day doesn’t mean its all over for us. Enjoy the win and hope for the best.

MOTSAGRising Heroes of the Game:

Trey Sermon, RB – 29 carries 331 yards and 2 TDs

Justin Hilliard, LB – 9 tackles, 5 solo, 2 TFL, 1 INT

Zach Hoover, P – 3 punts, 118 yards, 2 in 20


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