On a day when Tennessee and Clemson got thumped and Alabama lost, Ohio State’s concern was … not winning by enough points?

Yes, in some circles, a fan base can celebrate every win. At Ohio State, not winning by enough points is a cause for concern. In part, Ohio State fans are more than a little nervous. The national title carpet has been pulled out from under the Buckeyes several times in recent seasons. Also, with a 4-team Playoff, college football is still something of a beauty contest.

Have an 8-team field, and only winning by 2 touchdowns becomes a minor (if even existent) concern. And that’s coming. …  But in late 2022, here we are.

But after nearly a decade of getting nervous over close calls and sub-optimal performances, is the Northwestern game cause for concern for OSU? Simply put, no.

Don’t forget the weather. Ryan Day called it the worst game conditions he’d ever seen, and that seems pretty unlikely to be replicated.

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Sure, playing Michigan in the midst of a blizzard or on a soaked and soggy field could be possible, but what Ohio State faced Saturday wasn’t a bad track or a cosmetically uninspiring field. It was simply unplayable. Field goals curled backward toward the kicker. Passes blew on or off line at random.

For an Ohio State team whose passing game is something near the base of its offense, bad conditions are a challenge. But conditions fit for a science-fiction movie are very unlikely to surface again in 2022.

Let’s also not eliminate the injuries. Having TreVeyon Henderson would have been a big help for OSU. Yes, Miyan Williams has had a fine season, and in 90% of situations, he’s a solid replacement.

But Northwestern could key on Williams’ more physical, plodding style in a way that Henderson would have thwarted. Suck up all those defenders into the box, and watch Henderson find the edge a couple times. Remember that 44 yard gallop from CJ Stroud? Henderson could have done that probably 3-4 times. And at that point, 21-7 becomes 38-7 or 42-7.

The loss of Jaxon Smith-Njigba also hurt in the Green Bay-like conditions. Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, and Tom Brady probably weren’t going to combine for 300 yards in those conditions. But Smith-Njigba’s presence would have freed Emeka Egbuka for more short-strike plays, and given CJ Stroud the most experienced target on his offense.

Finally, Northwestern’s offense — not exactly one that most people are lining up to compliment — made Ohio State’s situation tougher. Few Big Ten offenses have the personnel to essentially go single-wing and run the ball over and over. Ohio State didn’t do a great job defensively with that situation, allowing a season-high 206 yards rushing. But allowing 3.49 yards per carry isn’t going to lose very many games.

In the second half, when Ohio State was trying to hang on to the game, the defense not only didn’t let Northwestern sniff the end zone, it didn’t let them sniff field goal range. Ohio State did have some bend but don’t break tendencies between the 20-yard lines, but it settled down quickly whenever needed.

Last but hardly least, maybe Ohio State’s struggles were due to a bit of human error. Even the most motivated and well-coached college players are still19, 20 and 21-year-old kids. Stick them in raw weather against a team playing keep away with very little real threat of defeat, and don’t be surprised if the game gets a little ragged. Ohio State would not approach a game with Michigan the way it approached Northwestern on Saturday. Not even if the game was played at the North Pole in the middle of winter.

Again, given recent struggles, Ohio State fans can be forgiven for being a little bit paranoid. But 3 of the top 6 teams in the nation lost on Saturday, and Ohio State wasn’t one of them. In fact, there’s no reason to take anything negative away from this one. It was a win. Let that be enough.