Rapid Recap: No. 6 Ohio State 45, No. 21 Northwestern 24


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Ohio State running back JK Dobbins breaks away from a tackle during the Buckeyes’ win over the Wildcats.

Cole Paxton, Gameday Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — The Wildcats entered Saturday 60 minutes against Ohio State from the Rose Bowl. They would get no closer than that.

Despite a valiant third-quarter barrage, No. 21 Northwestern failed to keep up with the No. 6 Buckeyes and lost 45-24 in the Big Ten Championship Game here, leaving the Cats (8-5, 8-1 Big Ten) one game short of their first Rose Bowl berth in more than two decades.

OSU quarterback Dwayne Haskins dominated all evening long, tossing for 499 yards and five touchdowns. He threw two touchdowns of more than 25 yards, including a 29-yard score to Chris Olave late in the third quarter.

That ended a run of 14 straight points for NU, which turned a 17-point halftime deficit into a one-score game. Clayton Thorson scrambled for an 18-yard rushing touchdown for the first score, then found superback Cameron Green wide open for the second.

Thorson had an otherwise uneven performance, completing 27 of 44 passes for 267 yards and tossing two interceptions. His mistakes loomed large in the first half, when the Cats tallied just 160 yards — nearly half of which came on a long touchdown run by John Moten.

NU clawed within a touchdown again in the fourth quarter, but the Buckeyes (12-1, 8-1) tacked on an insurance score just four plays later.


1. The Wildcats had almost no answers defensively. Haskins signaled early on that he’d be a menace to deal with: After briskly leading the Buckeyes down the field, he shed multiple would-be tacklers in the backfield before finding Terry McLaurin in the end zone. He then capped the first half — in which he threw for 249 yards — with a 42-yard touchdown toss to McLaurin on third-and-20. Haskins was nearly as prolific in the second half, and took full advantage of an NU secondary that lost starting cornerbacks Montre Hartage and Cameron Ruiz to injury.

2. NU’s offense couldn’t take advantage of its opportunities. It was all but a given that the Buckeyes would vastly outgain NU, meaning the Cats would need a positive turnover margin and red zone efficiency. Instead, Thorson ended a promising drive in OSU territory with an interception, and his lost fumble in the second quarter led to a field goal. When the Cats did have an opportunity to turn the momentum after a pick, they went three and out. And when NU had the momentum in the fourth quarter and drove within the 5, they stalled and settled for a field goal.

3. If you look hard enough, it isn’t all bad for NU. The Cats didn’t achieve their goal here, and the 21-point margin, though somewhat inflated, suggested they were more than one play away from creating a different result. Nevertheless, NU performed admirably against a fearsome opponent on a major stage, and achieved a significant goal by winning the west division. That puts the Cats in prime position for an attractive bowl game — likely the Citrus Bowl or Holiday Bowl — and a chance at a third consecutive bowl victory.

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