EVANSTON – The Northwestern Wildcats (1-5, 0-4 B1G) found themselves unsurprisingly outmatched by an incredibly talented Ohio State team (7-0, 4-0 B1G) under the lights at Ryan Field on Friday night.
Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields went 18-23 with 194 yards and four touchdown passes in just three quarters of play, aided by a big day from running back J.K Dobbins, who added 121 yards on the ground.
Northwestern’s offensive struggles, which has been a major talking point this season, persisted, as, despite some early promise in the run game with the return of a healthy Isaiah Bowser, redshirt junior quarterback Aidan Smith could not establish a rhythm throwing the ball downfield. He finished a lowly 6-20 for just 42 yards and an interception.
Northwestern’s defense started the game by surrendering an opening touchdown drive to Justin Fields and company. The Buckeyes drove 70 yards in 10 plays in only 4 minutes, capped off by Field’s 20-yard toss to Chris Olave for the score.
After forcing a Buckeye three-and-out, some good Isaiah Bowser rushes led to a Charlie Kuhbander 33-yard field goal to get the ‘Cats on the board on their second drive.
The second quarter kicked off with another Ohio State touchdown, Fields to Dobbins on a slant route from 19 yards out. The next Ohio State drive saw a few missed tackles on a J.K. Dobbins run for 67 yards set the Buckeyes up on the 5-yard line, where Dobbins punched it in, giving them a 21-3 lead.
The teams traded punts before a botched snap set the Buckeyes up on the Wildcat 15-yard line. Fields threw his third touchdown of the half to Olave, his second, two plays later. It was the sixth straight game in which Ohio State has scored at least 21 in the second quarter.
The Buckeyes pinned the ‘Cats to their goal line with one minute left, forcing a shanked Daniel Kubiak punt from the back of the end zone. Without timeouts, the Buckeyes were forced to attempt a 55-yard field goal, which kicker Blake Haubeil nailed. Ohio State led 31-3 at half.
After Northwestern failed to move the ball on the offense’s first drive of the second half, the Buckeyes quickly scored again; this time, Fields found Austin Mack for a 23-yard touchdown pass. The teams traded punts as the Buckeyes led 38-3 entering the final quarter of play.
An Aidan Smith interception deep in Northwestern territory set up another OSU touchdown, a touchdown pass from Fields’ backup Chris Chugunov. Master Teague added another touchdown with a 73-yard run to extend the lead to 49.
Andrew Marty relieved Smith midway through the fourth quarter, and threw a late fourth down pick to essentially wrap things up. We did not see Hunter Johnson.
The Buckeyes finished the game averaging 7.5 yards per play.
Ohio State is really good. That is a fact. Even still, this one somehow ended up going worse than expected.