When: Saturday, December 1st, 2018
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium | Indianapolis, IN
Time: 8:00p ET
The Ohio State football team will need an encore performance of last weekend’s dismantling of Michigan if they wish to receive another invite to the College Football Playoff.
The Ohio State Buckeyes we have been waiting to see all season finally showed up in The Game. The Buckeyes throttled the Wolverines 62-39 and quite frankly, it could have been much worse. Regardless, this is the best win of the college football season for any team, but will it be enough to make the playoff?
Standing between Ohio State and another playoff berth is a well coached and extremely disciplined Northwestern football team. Pat Fitzgerald’s group runs a ball control offense that will take shots down the field every so often.
Quarterback Clayton Thorson is one of the best at his position in the league so Ohio State will have their hands full defending his dual threat game. The Buckeyes’ defense has been prone to big plays all season, so they will need to limit the Wildcats all night.
Defensively, Northwestern plays a zone and tries to keep everything in front of them. On the other hand, Ohio State relies heavily on its speed as well as the arm of Dwayne Haskins. The game will be played indoors on turf; and historically, that gives the advantage to the Buckeyes against teams similar in style to the Wildcats.
Expect Ohio State to want to start fast right out of the gate, however, due to Northwestern’s defense, they may have to be patient and put together a lengthy drive to score. The Buckeyes will again look to establish the running game with Mike Weber and JK Dobbins and set the tone early with a balanced attack.
Also look for Haskins to hit a number of short, quick passes, especially early, underneath in an attempt to break the zone and get their speed guys in space. Last week, Haskins was able to sit in the pocket and dissect and diagnose the Wolverines’ man to man defense.
Crossing routes were the consistent play of the day as Ohio State saw success calling all different variations starting on the opening drive. Those routes across the field may not be as successful against a stout Northwestern defense due to the zone. But the Wildcats have yet to play a team that matches the Buckeyes’ speed.
A lot is on the line for both teams in this matchup. For Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes it is a potential return to the College Football Playoff. While Northwestern is playing for a trip to Pasadena. In the event the Buckeyes win and are left out of the playoff, they would head to the Rose Bowl to take on the PAC-12 Champion, either Washington or Utah.
Be sure to tune into FOX at 8:00p to catch the action of the Big Ten Championship Game from the house that Peyton Manning built.
Image Credit: Samuel Silverman | Director of Design at Ohio State Football