ANALYSIS: 5 things to know about Ohio State’s win over Northwestern

EVANSTON, Ill. -- The wind and the Wildcats worked against Ohio State on Saturday, but the Buckeyes eventually came away with a 21-7 win over Northwestern.

“I think the first thing is that you found a way to win a hard game like this,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said. “And it wasn’t about anything other than winning the game. I think when you get in November and you get into certain games, it’s like, ‘Well, how can you win by X-number of points?’ or whatever. This had nothing to do with that. When you’re dealing with these type of conditions, it’s impossible.”

Here are five things to know about the game:

1. The first quarter was a disaster for Ohio State.

Going into the wind, the Buckeyes gained 47 yards on 18 plays.

They had two first downs and were stuffed on third-and-short twice and also were stopped on a fourth-and-short while being shut out in the first 15 minutes for the first time this season.

Northwestern grabbed a 7-0 lead and tallied 113 yards, including 86 on the ground.

2. Northwestern tried to play ball-control offense.

The Wildcats had the ball for 36:26 and drove into Ohio State territory six times, but they came away with only seven points.

They turned the ball over on downs four times, including at the Ohio State 21 and 36.

Direct snaps to running back Evan Hull were a big part of the game plan, and he finished with 122 yards on 30 carries, but Ohio State eventually began to slow that down.

“As the game wore on, you realize really the pass was not going to happen,” Day said. “So you start bringing guys lower and lower down into the box.”

3. Neither team completed a pass of more than 15 yards.

C.J. Stroud completed only 10 of 26 passes for 76 yards with a long of 15 being hauled in by Marvin Harrison Jr.

Northwestern’s two quarterbacks, Brendan Sullivan and Ryan Hilinski, combined to go 10 for 17 for 79 yards with a long of 13.

“I’ve never been around conditions like this,” Day said. “I don’t know what the numbers show, but there must have been 30-MPH winds. And if you ever tried playing golf in 30-MPH winds, it’s hard to get off the tee, forget throw a football.”

4. Stroud’s legs got Ohio State going late.

Ohio State’s quarterback entered the game with minus-4 yards rushing on the season as a result of sacks, but he proved to be a difference-maker on the ground for the Buckeyes against the Wildcats.

He kept the first touchdown drive alive when he pulled the ball on a zone read and ran 16 yards on fourth-and-1, and his 44-yard scamper on another option play set up Ohio State’s clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“I’m like that every game where I tell coach to run me if he wants to or if he doesn’t it’s up to him,” Stroud said. “So usually every run play I do have a read, and I’m reading on a certain player. So a couple of times in the game where my defender or my gap open I would take it.”

5. Day called running Stroud multiple times, “an extreme case.”

Although the Buckeyes finished with 207 yards rushing, the running game was inefficient for much of the afternoon, and they struggled early in short-yardage situations.

“We have a couple of those (QB runs) in our back pocket if we need them,” Day said. “We don’t like to go there if we don’t have to, but we did.”

Game ball

With TreVeyon Henderson was out because of an unidentified injury, Miyan Williams was the bell-cow back for the Buckeyes.

He had a hard time finding room early but broke off a 27-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and scored from two yards out in the fourth. He finished with 111 yards on 26 carries.

Stat of the day

Ohio State’s 283 total yards were the fewest in the Day era and least the Buckeyes have gained since tallying 277 in the Cotton Bowl against USC at the end of the 2017 season.


Indiana at Ohio State, TBD, 1410

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