A grade card on a dominating performance by Ohio State in a 52-3 win over Northwestern.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields completed 18 of 23 passes for 194 yards and four touchdowns, but didn’t run for a touchdown for the first time in OSU’s seven games. But the lack of a running touchdown was just a statistical footnote because he used his feet in other ways.
Fields excelled in keeping third down situations alive by moving around in the pocket or scrambling when the Buckeyes built a 31-3 halftime lead. The most notable example of this was during OSU’s second scoring drive when Fields connected with K.J. Hill on a 20-yard pass play on third and 15 and three plays later he found Chris Olave for a 14 yards on third and nine.
Northwestern came into the game ranked No. 26 nationally on defense and limited J.K. Dobbins to 22 yards on his first nine carries. But the junior running back caught a 19-yard touchdown pass to give Ohio State a 14-3 lead, then broke off a 65-yard run and scored on a 5-yard run three minutes after his first touchdown.
Dobbins has 947 yards rushing through seven games after gaining 121 yards on 18 carries. His back-up, Master Teague, has 512 yards after getting loose for a 73-yard touchdown run.
Northwestern came into Friday’s game ranked No. 125 nationally on offense and looked every bit of that lowly ranking. Of course, Ohio State’s defense had something to do with that. But when you’ve scored eight offensive touchdowns in six games and your quarterbacks have thrown two touchdown passes and 10 interceptions this season, as Northwestern’s have, a lot of defenses are going to have good days against you.
Sevyn Banks and Amir Riep got interceptions against Northwestern quarterback Aidan Smith, who was 6 for 20 for 42 yards. The player he replaced, former 5-star recruit Hunter Johnson, did not play for a second game in a row after throwing one touchdown pass and four interceptions in Northwestern’s first four games. Chase Young’s sack of Smith on Northwestern’s second offensive play was the only one OSU got, but it was all it needed in this game.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
There was a big celebration by kicker Blake Haubeil and his teammates after Haubeil kicked a 55-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. It was a career best for the OSU kicker and a bit of validation for him. He is 8 of 10 on field goals but his misses from 32 yards and 37 yards made some people nervous. Punter Drue Chrisman continued to pin teams deep in their own territory with three punts that were downed inside the 20-yard line.
Consistency has been a defining characteristic of this year’s Ohio State team, regardless of the opponent. Even after its shocking loss at Illinois, Wisconsin might test Ohio State in ways no other team has so far this season.