Ohio State Slogs Through Wind and Rain to Defeat Northwestern, 21-7, in Unexpectedly Close Game

Ohio State entered Saturday’s game at Northwestern as a 38-point favorite. The Buckeyes didn’t take their first lead of the game until the second half.

Amid high winds throughout the game and heavy rain for part of the game, Ohio State’s offense struggled to find its footing in Evanston, failing to score any points for the first 27 minutes and 34 seconds of the game. But after going into halftime tied, the Buckeyes outscored Northwestern 14-0 in the second half to leave Ryan Field with a 21-7 win and improve to 9-0 on the season.

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
#2 Ohio State 0 7 7 7 21
NORTHWESTERN 7 0 0 0 7

The game started ugly for Ohio State right off the bat as C.J. Stroud completed zero of his five passing attempts on the Buckeyes’ first two possessions. After a 3-and-out on its opening series, Northwestern drove 80 yards in nine plays on its second possession, with Evan Hull running for a 16-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats an early 7-0 lead.

Advertisement

Ohio State’s start went from bad to worse when the Buckeyes went for it on 4th-and-1 on their own 40-yard line on their fourth possession of the game and Miyan Williams got stopped for no gain, giving the ball back to Northwestern in OSU territory. But the Buckeyes’ defense was able to get off the field without points when Northwestern opted to go for it on 4th-and-8 from the 25-yard line and Ronnie Hickman tackled Northwestern receiver Malik Washington four yards short of the line to gain.

Still, the Buckeyes’ offense continued to struggle mightily, gaining just 72 yards and scoring zero points on its first six possessions of the game.

Ohio State finally broke through to tie the game on its seventh possession of the day. After Stroud caught the Buckeyes’ defense off-guard with a 16-yard run on 4th-and-1, Emeka Egbuka scored Ohio State’s first points of the day on a 15-yard running play to tie the game at 7-7 with 2:26 left to play in the first half.

After a 4th-and-1 run stop by Taron Vincent and Lathan Ransom on Northwestern’s opening possession of the second half, Ohio State finally took its first lead of the game with 8:44 remaining in the third quarter when Williams – who had gained just 28 yards on his first 13 carries of the day – broke free for a 27-yard touchdown run with some lead-blocking assistance from Stroud.

The Buckeyes remained unable to put the game away as they were forced to punt the ball on their next two possessions. But Ohio State’s defense stopped Northwestern’s biggest threat of the second half when a 16-play, 60-yard drive by the Wildcats ended with an incomplete pass on 4th-and-8.

Ohio State finally took its first two-score lead of the game when Williams ran for a 2-yard touchdown with 4:21 left to play in the game. That touchdown was set up by a 44-yard run by Stroud, his longest since he ran for a 48-yard touchdown against Michigan State in 2020.

Ohio State’s 21-point day tied its lowest scoring effort of the season, as the Buckeyes also scored only 21 in their season opener against Notre Dame.

OHIO STATE METRIC NORTHWESTERN
283 TOTAL YARDS 285
207 RUSHING YARDS 206
35 RUSHING ATTEMPTS 59
5.9 AVERAGE per RUSH 3.5
3 RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS 1
76 PASSING YARDS 79
10-26 COMPLETIONS–ATTEMPTS 10-17
7.6 AVERAGE per COMPLETION 7.9
0 PASSING TOUCHDOWNS 0
13 1st DOWNS 17
61 TOTAL PLAYS 76
4.6 YARDS PER PLAY 3.8
2-2 RED ZONE 1-1
4-15 third down conv 9-20
3-20 PENALTIES 4-27
23:34 POSSESSION 36:26

But as they did against the Fighting Irish, the Buckeyes found a way to win in Evanston on Saturday to remain undefeated.

Stroud finished the game with a career-high 79 rushing yards but threw for only 76 yards, his fewest as Ohio State’s starting quarterback.

Williams topped 100 rushing yards for the third time this season while Tommy Eichenberg led Ohio State’s defense with 12 tackles.

After back-to-back games on the road, Ohio State will return home and look to improve to 10-0 on the season next week when it hosts Indiana at Ohio Stadium. Game time and TV network for next Saturday’s game will be announced following the conclusion of this week’s Big Ten games.

Game Notes

  • TreVeyon Henderson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Cameron Brown were among 12 unavailable players for Saturday’s game.
  • Ty Hamilton made his first start of the season at defensive tackle. Miyan Williams made his second start of the season in place of Henderson. JK Johnson made his fifth start of the season in place of Cameron Brown, though Jyaire Brown also saw regular playing time in the cornerback rotation.
  • C.J. Stroud, Cade Stover, Tyler Friday and Tommy Eichenberg were the captains for the pregame coin toss.
  • Saturday’s game was the first time all year Ohio State failed to score in the first quarter.
  • By scoring at least 20 points for the 70th game in a row, Ohio State set a record for the most consecutive 20-point games in FBS history, breaking the previous record of 69 games set by Oklahoma from 2016-21.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *