The Buckeyes move on to their second biggest conference games of the season, as Ohio State arrive in Chicago to play Northwestern, suddenly finding themselves as the last remaining threat to an undefeated season for their rivals, hoping to present themselves as worthy challengers for the Big Ten crown.
Ohio State (5-0, #4 in the nation) have played only one Big Ten game so far this season, but it was probably the toughest they’ll get to play all year, beating Wisconsin in Columbus. It was the opportunity for Braxton Miller to end all the talk about Kenny Guiton and any existing quarterback debate. He threw four touchdown passes and didn’t escape to his running plays as much as usual, showing just how versatile and hard to stop he really is.
The Buckeyes have another problem, as it will have to deal with safety Christian Bryant. A broken ankle means he’s out for the season, and it’s a big worry regardless of the outcome in Ryan Field, but college football is a week-to-week kind of competition anyway.
Despite losing to Ohio State on their last four meetings and being one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to stopping the pass (117th in the nation to be exact), Northwestern don’t seem intimidated as they have a chance to go 5-0 for a second consecutive season, the first time since 1904-05.
Northwestern manage to spread the offensive duties well between passing and running, but it’s mostly about Treyvon Green and the returning Venric Mark, averaging 249.5 rushing yards per game, good enough for 18th in the nation. The Buckeyes actually beat them in that category as well and are pretty efficient in stopping the run as well, as they showed against the Badgers (keeping them at 104 rushing yards). They’re 8th in the nation when it comes to stopping the run, allowing only 84.6 yards per game.
Prediction – Northwestern are hyped, possibly too hyped as they feel they have an excellent chance of finally beating Ohio State. The problem is that their running game won’t be enough against this defense, while Braxton Miller has the opportunity to do more damage with his arm, and keep the Buckeyes perfect.