Game 13 Recap: Ohio State 45 – Northwestern 24

Recap

Leading up to the game, Ohio State playoff chances hinged on the results from the Big 12 Championship Game and the SEC Championship Game. Oklahoma revenged its only loss of the season to Texas, which Ohio State needed Texas to win that game, and Alabama beat Georgia, but were trailing in the 4th quarter and were a bad fake punt call away from the Bulldogs winning. Ohio State’s chances at this point were now based on how well they could handle Northwestern, and would most likely need a 59-0 like performance to make a case for the playoff committee.

For the first half, Ohio State looked like they were going to make a big statement. Ohio State took the ball first to start the game, and drove down the field for a nearly 5 minute touchdown drive, in which Haskins connected with Terry McLaurin, an Indianapolis native, for a 16 yard touchdown. It appeared to be the strategy for the Buckeyes to wear down the Northwestern defense, and control the game with their offense. The defense then was able to hold Northwestern to a 3 and out, but unfortunately the Ohio State offense wasn’t able to get another long drive going, having to punt right back. On the Wildcats next possession, John Moten IV was able to gash out a 77 yard touchdown run to tie that game at 7 all. Ohio State was able to respond back with another touchdown drive, taking the lead, and then taking the lead at halftime 24-7. Ohio State gained momentum at the end of the first half, and if they were able to continue with their success, it would be a big statement for the playoff committee.

Northwestern got the ball back to start the second half, and had a 5 play drive to a touchdown, bring the score to 24-14. After a few exchanged turnovers, Northwestern was able to drive down again, and bring the score to 24-21. Any hopes of Ohio State making the playoffs now dwindled, and it became a feeling of just winning the game, regardless of style points. Ohio State took the ball al drive down to score once more, making it 31-21 at the end of the third quarters. Northwestern drove down to score a field goal, bringing the score to 31-24. Haskins though shined in the 4th quarter and on their next two possessions, the Buckeyes aired it out, and stopped the Wildcats from coming back, winning 45-24.

Dwayne Haskins put up his best performance yet again, and broke several Big Ten Championship Game records with his 499 yards passing on 34/41 attempts and 5 touchdowns. JK Dobbins led the rushing charge with 68 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, and Mike Weber added 51 yards on 17 carries, but had a costly fumble.

The receivers were elite once again, led by Johnnie Dixon who had 129 yards on 7 receptions and a touchdown. Terry McLaurin hauled in 2 touchdowns catches as well in his homecoming game with 78 yards on 3 catches.

Ohio State won its second Big Ten Champions in a row, and the third Big Ten Championship game under Urban Meyer.

Turning Point

Ohio State held a commanding 24-7 lead at halftime. When Northwestern got the ball in the second half, they were able to slow down the Ohio State offense, and bring the score up to 24-21 in the third quarter. It wasn’t until Ohio State drove from their own 40 and Haskins connected with Chris Olave for a 29 yard pass to

Star of the Game

Dwayne Haskins threw for 499 yards and 5 touchdowns against one of the top passing defenses in the country. Several of the passes were deep balls, which reminisced memories of the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game. His performance earned the player of the game honors, as well as a trip to New York. He will play in the Rose Bowl in what will most likely be his last game as a Buckeye.

Playoff Picture

Ohio State missed out on the second year in a row for the playoffs, finishing 6th in the regular season in the CFP Poll. They had an aesthetically score pleasing win against Northwestern, and Dwayne Haskins cemented his Heisman finalist push, but it was not enough for the committee to put them ahead of Oklahoma, or even Georgia, who lost in the last minute against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Ohio State instead will head to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2010, and play Pac-12 Champion Washington. It is the first time in the College Football Playoff era that the Big Ten and Pac-12 Champion are playing each other in the Rose Bowl.

Looking Ahead

Ohio State (12-1) will play Washington (10-3) in the Rose Bowl. This will be Urban Meyer’s last game.

Northwestern (8-5) will play Utah (9-4) in the Holiday Bowl

Photo Credit to Downtown Indy

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