It wasn’t Ohio State’s prettiest outing, but it was enough to get past Northwestern, 40-30, at sold-out Ryan Field in a Big Ten meeting last Saturday night.
The No. 4-ranked and undefeated Buckeyes used running back Carlos Hyde’s three touchdowns in the second half to extend their winning streak to 18 games, the longest in the nation.
“This was a street fight that went 12 rounds,’’ said Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer, who directed the Florida Gators to a pair of Bowl Championship Series titles. “That’s not the old Northwestern. They’re a very good team.”
Hyde’s four-yard run with 3:54 left in the third quarter chopped the Wildcats’ lead to 23-20, and Hyde’s two-run blast with 11:29 showing in the fourth quarter catapulted Ohio State into a 27-23 lead.
Hyde’s seven-yarder as 5:22 remained in the final quarter pushed the Buckeyes (6-0 and 2-0 in conference) ahead 34-30, and capped an 81-yard drive.
“They [the coaches] told me before the game they were going to ride me and that meant I was going to carry the ball,’’ said Hyde, who finished with a career-best 168 yards on 26 carries.
The Buckeyes gained 248 yards on the ground while the Wildcats managed 94 with running back Venric Mark tallying 60 yards on 17 carries.
Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald, a one-time Wildcats’ linebacker, uses Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian at quarterback.
Siemian is considered the better passer and he threw for 245 yards while hitting 13 of 18 passes, but was sacked five times, while Colter, the stronger runner, found the target on 12 of 12 attempts for 98 yards.
After Drew Basil’s 27-yard field goal gave the Buckeyes (451 total net yards) a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller’s fumble led to Siemian’s nine-yard toss to Colter, who was in the slot, and eight minutes left in the same quarter that made it 7-3.
The touchdown came after lineman Tyler Scott stripped Miller (two fumbles) of the ball which he recovered at the Ohio State 23.
Miller was coming off a strong showing versus Wisconsin in which he threw four touchdowns, but had 203 yards against the Wildcats on 15 of 26 attempts with one interception, and ran for 68 yards on 17 carries.
Ohio State’s Bradley Roby blocked and recovered Brandon Williams’ punt in the end zone with 2:33 left in the initial quarter for a 10-7 lead.
Colter’s two-yard dash early in the second quarter capped a 75-yard, 10-play drive that gave the No. 16-ranked Wildcats (4-1 and 0-1 in conference) a 14-10 lead before Basil’s 20-yard field goal about five minutes later trimmed the advantage to one point.
Jeff Budzien’s 23-yard field goal with five minutes left before the half increased Northwestern’s lead to 17-13, and Budzien’s 29-yarder with 55 seconds showing made it a seven-point spread.
Budzien’s 32-yard boot and 10:40 left in the third quarter gave Northwestern a 23-13 lead and Siemian’s 12-yard strike to wide receiver Cameron Dickerson closed an 80-yard march that handed the Wildcats (437 total yards) a 30-27 lead with 9:10 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Ohio State’s final points came on a multiple lateral and fumble by Mark (43 yards on four catches) that lineman Joey Bosa recovered in the end zone as time expired.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.