EVANSTON, Ill. – Ohio State’s 52-3 win over Northwestern on Friday night looked very familiar.
And that was just fine with the Buckeyes and the largest contingent of OSU fans who made the trip to Chicago.
Once again it was a story of first-half dominance for No. 4 Ohio State (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten).
The Buckeyes took a 31-3 halftime lead, which means they have outscored their first seven opponents 231-31 in the first half. In the second quarter alone in those seven games, OSU has outscored its opponents 158-20.
Justin Fields was 18 of 23 passing for 194 yards and four touchdowns and J.K. Dobbins ran for 121 yards, rushed for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass to lead Ohio State to its 32nd win over Northwestern in the last 33 times the two teams have played.
“I thought we played with energy in all three phases. It was a good way to start the second half of the season,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.
Asked about Ohio State’s pattern of big first halves, he said, “I don’t know what that means other than we want to start fast. I thought the key tonight was Justin making some third-down conversions early, staying in the pocket and delivering the ball.
“I thought he had great poise. If he can build on this, he has a chance to be special.”
Day also liked what he saw from OSU’s defense. “They’re playing at a high level right now,” he said.
Ohio State jumped out to a 7-0 lead on its first drive of the game, which ended with Fields connecting with Chris Olave for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
Northwestern (1-5, 0-4 Big Ten) got its only points of the night late in the first quarter on a 33-yard field goal by Charlie Kuhbander to cut the lead to 7-3.
The game was a rematch of last year’s Big Ten championship game, which Ohio State won 45-24. But it quickly turned into a mis-match in the second quarter.
It started with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Dobbins to make it 14-3 with 12:44 left in the first half.
Northwestern bottled up Dobbins early. His first eight runs gained 2 yards, 9 yards, 0 yards, 2 yards, 0 yars, 2 yards, 4 yards and 1 yard.
But that changed when he broke loose for a 68-yard gain, then scored on the next play on a 5-yard run to give OSU a 21-3 lead with 9:36 left before halftime
The lead grew to 28-3 when Fields and Olave teamed up for an 8-yard touchdown pass. Blake Haubeil’s career-best 55-yard field goal made it 31-3 at halftime.
In the second half, Fields threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Austin Mack. Chris Chugunov had a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Ruckert and Master Teague scored on a 73-yard touchdown run.
Ohio State rolled up 482 yards total offense, 281 yards of it on the ground. Northwestern had 199 yards total offense.
Isaiah Bowser’s 65 yards on 16 carries led Northwestern.