Ohio State-Northwestern Big Ten championship game match-ups


Ohio State #25 Mike Webber fights for yardage as Northwestern #32 Nate Hall and Northwestern #16 Godwin Igwebuike wraps Webber up in the first half at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University October 29, 2016 Photo By Don Speck

Ohio State #25 Mike Webber fights for yardage as Northwestern #32 Nate Hall and Northwestern #16 Godwin Igwebuike wraps Webber up in the first half at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University October 29, 2016 Photo By Don Speck


QUARTERBACKS

Dwayne Haskins has thrown for more yards (4,081) and more touchdowns (42) than any quarterback in Big Ten history in his his first season as a starter.

Clayton Thorson has started 51 games for Northwestern. He suffered a torn ACL in the Music City Bowl but returned to start the season opener against Purdue eight months after the injury. He has thrown for 2,675 yards and 14 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.

Advantage: Ohio State

RUNNING BACKS

J.K. Dobbins (961 yards) and Mike Weber (807 yards) have been the dual threat they were expected to be, though probably have not had as many big plays as expected. Dobbins has been OSU’s leading rusher in seven games and Weber has led that category in five games.

Sidney High School graduate Isaiah Bowser (736 yards, 6 touchdowns) became Northwestern’s No. 1 running back after a medical issue forced Jeremy Larkin to give up football four games into the season.

Advantage: Ohio State

RECEIVERS

Parris Campbell’s 72 catches is already the fourth highest season total in Ohio State history behind David Boston’s 85 in 1998, Curtis Samuel’s 74 in 2016 and Boston’s 73 in 1997.

Flynn Nagel (64 catches), Cameron Green (46 catches) and Bennett Skowronek (40 catches) are Northwestern’s top receivers.

Advantage: Ohio State

OFFENSIVE LINE

Ohio State’s offensive line played its best game of the season in a 62-39 win over Michigan but starting guard Demetrius Knox will not play this week because of a foot injury he suffered late in that game. Redshirt freshman Wyatt Davis will take his place.

Northwestern has struggled to find the right combination on its offensive line. Center Jared Thomas and right tackle Rashawn Slater are the only linemen to start every game. Northwestern’s 3.0 yards per carry is last in the Big Ten and the 29 sacks it has allowed ranks next to last.

Advantage: Ohio State

DEFENSIVE LINE

End Jonathon Cooper played one of his better games in the win over Michigan. Ohio State has 34 sacks in 12 games. Last year’s team had 43 in 14 games.

Northwestern has been good against the run, allowing 134.7 yards a game. It has been less effective in getting to quarterbacks. Its 17 sacks rank thirteenth in the Big Ten. Defensive end Joe Gaziano (6 sacks, 11 tackles for losses) leads the defensive line.

Advantage: Ohio State

LINEBACKERS

All three of OSU’s starting linebackers – Tuf Borland, Malik Harrison and Pete Werner – played well against Michigan, which hasn’t always been the case this season.

Paddy Fisher (92 tackles, 4 tackles for losses) and Blake Gallagher (112 tackles, 6.5 tackles for losses) make linebacker a key position on Northwestern’s defense. Nate Hall has three interceptions.

Advantage: Northwestern

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Safeties Jordan Fuller and Brendon White had interceptions against Michigan but coach Urban Meyer says the defensive backfield is still allowing too many big plays.

For Northwestern, safety Jared Pace has three interceptions and 70 tackles. Montre Hartage might be one of the best cornerbacks in pass coverage in the Big Ten.

Advantage: Northwestern

SPECIAL TEAMS

Ohio State’s kick coverage teams have been excellent but it has mishandled kickoffs in the last two games. Blake Haubeil is 9 of 11 on field goals since taking over that job.

Injuries have forced Northwestern to use three kickers this season. They have combined to make 8 of 14 with only one successful kick longer than 37 yards.

Advantage: Ohio State

https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/11/web1_Ohio-State-logo-7.jpg
Ohio State #25 Mike Webber fights for yardage as Northwestern #32 Nate Hall and Northwestern #16 Godwin Igwebuike wraps Webber up in the first half at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University October 29, 2016 Photo By Don Speck
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/11/web1_WeberNorthwestern.jpgOhio State #25 Mike Webber fights for yardage as Northwestern #32 Nate Hall and Northwestern #16 Godwin Igwebuike wraps Webber up in the first half at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University October 29, 2016 Photo By Don Speck
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/11/web1_Northwestern-logo.jpg

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