The Northwestern Wildcats (1-7, 1-4 Big Ten) look to end a seven-game losing skid against the top team in the Big Ten, the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten). Ohio State and Northwestern didn’t meet last season but battled each other in the 2020 Big Ten Championship, with the Buckeyes winning 22-10.
The kickoff of the conference showdown is at 12 p.m. EST at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois. Ohio State is a 38-point betting favorite, and the over/under total is 60.5 points.
What to Know – #2 Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State faced its toughest test of the season since the Week 1 opener against Notre Dame. Penn State gave the Buckeyes a scare, but OSU ultimately pulled away with a 44-31 victory to remain undefeated this season.
C.J. Stroud leads an offense that averages 509.3 yards and 48.9 points per game. The quarterback has accounted for 2,377 yards and 29 touchdowns through the air. He is completing 71.3% of his passes and has thrown only four interceptions.
With Miyan Williams on the sideline, TreVeyon Henderson has emerged as the leading back for the Buckeyes. Henderson has carried the ball 96 times for 552 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry and finding the endzone six times.
The receiving core for OSU has been banged up all season, but Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. have led the way. Egbuka leads the team in total yards with 788, while Harrison Jr. is the frontrunner in receptions (48) and touchdowns (10).
What to Know – Northwestern Wildcats
The year hasn’t gone as hoped for head coach Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats. Northwestern is on its second-straight losing season and sits at the bottom of the Big Ten West standings.
A change at quarterback hasn’t sparked the Wildcats’ offense. Ryan Hilinski opened the season as Northwestern’s signal-caller but was benched during their Week 6 contest against the Wisconsin Badgers and hasn’t played since. Brendan Sullivan has assumed duties under center and is 52-of-71 for 416 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions this year.
Starting running back Evan Hull is piecing together a strong season out of the backfield. The junior rusher is averaging 4.3 yards per carry to the tune of 579 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Hulls is second on the team in receiving, catching 45 passes for 461 yards and two scores.
The passing game is a bit bleak, with only one wide receiver having over 400 yards receiving or more as we enter the down stretch of the season.
Malik Washington leads the Wildcats’ wideouts with 43 receptions, 470 yards, and one score. Donny Navarro III is tied with Hull with two passing scores.
The Pick is In
Saturday’s contest could get ugly fast for the Wildcats. Northwestern doesn’t have the defense this season to contain the high-powered offense that OSU possesses, and they surely don’t have the offense to test the Buckeyes’ improved defense.
The Pick: #2 Ohio State Buckeyes -38