The Ohio State Buckeyes will try to win their second consecutive Big Ten Football Championship on Saturday night. The Buckeyes will take on the Northwestern Wildcats, who were a surprising division champion. Ohio State has dominated the all-time series against Northwestern, winning 30 of the previous 31 matchups between the schools.
Northwestern was the winner of the Big 10 West Division this season, ending a dominant run by Wisconsin. The Wildcats finished the regular season with an 8-4 record and went 8-1 in Big Ten play. Ohio State comes into this game as the sixth-ranked team in the College Football Playoff rankings after finishing with an 11-1 overall record. The Buckeyes are a whopping 14.5 point favorite over Northwestern on Saturday night.
Haskins Putting Up Heisman Numbers
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year after putting up historic numbers. Haskins threw for over 4,000 yards, and 42 touchdowns passes this season in leading an explosive offense. Ohio State is averaging over 43 points a game and put up 62 points on Michigan a season ago. Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill have been the top receiving targets this season, combining for over 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.
The Ohio State defense has been under fire all season long, but they stepped up when the Buckeyes needed it the most. The Buckeyes have given up 25.8 points per game this season, but their running defense has been solid at times. Ohio State has scored four defensive touchdowns this season, and they have plenty of athletes on that side of the ball.
Wildcats Must Play Defense
The Northwestern Wildcats must put together a terrific defensive effort to keep this game close. The Wildcats lack the athleticism to keep up with Ohio State, but head coach Pat Fitzgerald is a terrific defensive mind. Fitzgerald was named as the Big Ten Coach of the Year, and he will have a gameplan ready for the Buckeyes. Lineback Paddy Fisher was named to that All Big Ten First-Team and has the ability to cause havoc on defense.
Clayton Thorson gives Northwestern a veteran presence at the quarterback position, but he also lacks playmaking ability. Thorson is a pocket passer that has thrown just 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions this season. Look for Northwestern to try and feed running back Isaiah Bowser early and often in this game. Bowser has racked up 736 yards on the ground and has scored five touchdowns this season. The Wildcats will need to score points if they are going to pull off the upset.
It’s a Rout, Buckeyes Roll
The Buckeyes are a big favorite in this game for good reason. Their roster is much more complete than the Wildcats, and they have the ability to put up a ton of points on offense. Northwestern will compete hard, but they don’t have the talent or resources to compete with the Buckeyes. This game shouldn’t be close. Bet the Ohio State Buckeyes -14.5 over the Northwestern Wildcats.