Everyone predicted Northwestern to be toughest game on the slate for Ohio State, and the predictions came true. Luckily, despite Braxton Miller turning the ball over three times, some big plays by the defense, special teams and Carlos Hyde were enough to keep the winning streak and title hopes alive, advancing to 18 straight and 5-0 this season.
This had to be one of the biggest games in recent history Ryan Field has hosted, and Northwestern had their hand on the prize for most of the game, until Carlos Hyde and a game ending touchdown from the Buckeyes’ defense recovering a fumble ended the game at 40-30, which should keep Northwestern among ranked teams, but most importantly it keeps Ohio State, most likely, among the top 4 in the nation.
The only thing that worked for Braxton Miller? The play-action. Everything else was simply shut down. You’d expect Ohio State to have an easier time throwing the ball against one of the worst pass-defense teams in the College Football, but Miller finished with only 15-of-26 for 203 yards, throwing an interceptions and no touchdowns. However, whenever he went for play action, it worked. He was 11-of-15 for 163 yards off play action, setting career highs in completions, attempts, yards and 20-plus yard completions off a play fake. Six of those completions went to Philly Brown, making four of them into 20+ yard gains.
I go out every game with the mindset that I have to make up for those three games. First I’ll give thanks to God. That suspension. That … that suspension really hurt. Being out there with my brothers is the greatest thing.
The real story was Carlos Hyde, the senior running back who didn’t play (suspension) in the first three games of the season. He had a strong performance against Wisconsin last week, but it was nothing compared to his dominance against the Northwestern defensive line, which blitzed quite often, but couldn’t find a way to stop the runs and struggled against any signs of misdirection shown by the Buckeyes offense.
Hyde finished with 168 yards on 26 carries, scoring three touchdowns, including twice in the second quarter. Urban Meyer realized at some point that he can’t keep going to Miller because the Wildcats’ defense was designed to take away the running plays from the quarterback. Eventually, realizing that with enough time and room to maneuver might have saved the game and the season for Ohio State.
He’s the horse right now. I think he’s a great player. It tells you how much I trust the kid. His whole career was just kind of mush. He hadn’t done a lot for himself or this program. We all make mistakes. I think this is a game-changer for him. We all make mistakes. I think this is a game changer for him.
Braxton Miller was nearly benched during the game after his second fumble. Urban Meyer had to do something, but instead decided to go with Hyde instead of put the ball in Guiton’s safe hands. It worked, and now Ohio State have a pretty easy schedule left to handle, although it might not help them if there are at least two more than undefeated teams left standing by the time this season is over.