Ohio State won its 38th Big Ten championship on Saturday night.
Here are five things to know about the sixth-ranked Buckeyes’ 45-24 win over Northwestern.
1. Dwayne Haskins had another historic night.
The sophomore quarterback was named the most valuable player of the game and broke Big Ten championship game records with 34 completions, 499 yards, five touchdown passes and a completion percentage of 82.9 (34 for 41).
He extended his single-season Big Ten records for passing yards (4,580) and touchdown passes (47) while also breaking Denard Robinson’s record for total offense. Haskins finished the night with 4,702 total yards (rushing and passing) on the season.
2. The Ohio State defense was imperfect but opportunistic.
Facing a team that has struggled most of the season on offense but had some fits of success, the Buckeyes played right about to their season average.
Ohio State entered the game allowing an average of 25.8 points and 398.8 yards per game, and Northwestern accumulated 21 and 418, respectively.
Seventy-seven of those yards came on John Moten IV’s touchdown run in the first quarter.
The Wildcats also had nine pass plays of 15 yards or more, but the Buckeyes forced three turnovers and logged eight tackles for loss, including three sacks.
Chase Young tied the Big Ten championship game record with three sacks and also forced a fumble while Shaun Wade and Damon Arnette had interceptions.
3. Northwestern made plays on defense — but not enough.
The Wildcats had a season-high 10 tackles for loss, including four sacks.
They forced a pair of turnovers, too, but ultimately they just could not contain Haskins and his plethora of playmakers.
“Looking at the game, I tip my hat to Coach Meyer, his staff and his players,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “They are Big Ten champions for a reason. They earned it here tonight and made a whole bunch of explosive plays and we knew we had to limit that. I thought we had a pretty good job at that for the most part, but a couple of plays got away from us. When they execute the way they did we have to be flawless, and obviously we weren’t.”
5. Two Miami Valley natives contributed for Northwestern.
Isaiah Bowser, a freshman from Sidney, ran 13 times for 60 yards (a 4.6-yard average). He also caught two passes for 24 yards.
Charlie Kuhbander, a sophomore from Springboro, made three PAT kicks and a 21-yard field goal. He returned after missing the last three games and five games overall this season with a leg injury.
For Ohio State, defensive tackle Robert Landers had two tackles, including one for loss.
5. The Buckeyes hope they made a strong enough case to get into the College Football Playoff, but they were ready to revel in their win regardless.
“I don't really want to get into that tonight,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “I think those people (on the selection committee) — I think they're in Dallas, wherever they are, and it's a tough situation they're in. There's a lot of great football teams out there. And we're one of those great football teams. And I think there should be a lot of merit in winning your conference, which we did.
“You look at the road wins we had at Penn State, at Michigan State, at TCU, and then obviously the way we played against the fourth-ranked team in America (Michigan last week) and the way we played tonight…
"I don't know if we're in a position to start making statements about where we belong. But I know they've got a tough decision to make, because we're a heck of a football team.”
6. Meyer deflected questions about his future again.
Twice during the week Meyer was asked about how much longer he will be the coach at Ohio State.
“I plan on coaching and enjoying this championship,” Meyer said. “And Chase had three sacks.”
Meyer’s wife, Shelly, spoke to reporters for a few minutes after the game and also stressed how much the family wanted to enjoy the win.
“He’s feeling really good right now,” she said. “Winning cures a lot of things and all I can say is he’s been feeling pretty good the last few weeks after getting all the headaches under control, and we’re feeling really good today. Really good today.”
7. The Buckeyes are probably headed to the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State entered the weekend ranked sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings.
While No. 4 Georgia lost to No. 1 Alabama in the SEC championship game, No. 5 Oklahoma won the Big 12 championship game against Texas.
That would seem to put the Sooners in prime position to join the Crimson Tide and fellow unbeaten teams Clemson and Notre Dame in the top four when the rankings are released just after noon on Sunday.
If so, Ohio State will be headed out west to play Pac 12 champion Washington in the Rose Bowl.
Meyer, who grew up an Ohio State fan in northeast Ohio, has never coached in a Rose Bowl but acknowledged that was something he has dreamed about.
“It sure was, and it’s amazing,” Meyer said. “I’ve never coached in that game. Kirk Herbstreit and I talk about it all the time. So if that's where we end up, we'd be so proud to be there. And I know our players would feel the same.”
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