Final Score: #4 Ohio State 52 Northwestern 3

Brief recap: On the first few possessions, it actually looked like Ohio State might be in for a fight. Despite Northwestern’s 1-4 record, they appeared to have some of that Pat Fitzgerald magic that might keep things close, at least for a little bit. Those hopes quickly dissolved. The Buckeyes scored on two methodical drives to take a 14-3 lead early. Gassed, Northwestern’s defense then allowed J.K. Dobbins to break off a 68-yard run and scored on a 5-yard pitch on the next play to make the score 21-3. That was essentially the end of the Wildcats’ night. Ohio State took a 31-3 advantage into halftime and was on cruise control for the second half. Ryan Day’s focus quickly shifted from finding ways to score against Northwestern to keeping guys healthy for next week’s game against No. 6 Wisconsin.

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Key moment: The final play of the first quarter didn’t result in any points, but it just showed the difference in athleticism. A broken play allowed two Northwestern defenders to get into the backfield and get pressure on Fields. The OSU quarterback avoided one defender, took a hit from another and stumbled, but kept his balanced and fired a perfect pass about 20 yards to pick up the first down. Maybe it wasn’t the play that iced the game, but it pretty much defined the contest.

Key stat: This number doesn’t look great on paper, but Ohio State converted 8-of-13 3rd down attempts Friday night. The significance isn’t necessarily that the Buckeyes converted those 3rd downs, but that most of those were 3rd-and-long situations. Northwestern’s defense has actually been pretty good all year, so picking up chunks of yards in those key moments was actually fairly impressive.

Key player: You could pick a number of players, but Fields gets the honor this week. He finished the day completing 18-of-23 passes for 194 yards with four touchdown passes. He only had eight rushing yards, not needing to use his legs much in this contest. Fields’ elusiveness facing pressure was probably even more impressive than his statistics.

What it means for Northwestern: Slow starts and the inability to score is still a huge issue for Northwestern. Granted, this was by far the most difficult opponent the Wildcats have faced this season, but this has been a recurring issue all year. It won’t get any easier for this group next week, with Northwestern hosting another excellent defense in Iowa next Saturday. Expect another low-scoring game from Evanston next week. The question is whether or not Mick McCall’s group can muster enough points to get a B1G victory.

What it means for Ohio State: Lights, camera, action. With another lopsided result in their favor, we’ve got ourselves a top 10 showdown in Columbus with Ohio State hosting Wisconsin next Saturday. It’s going to be the game of the year in the B1G, at least to this point. And, unlike the other seven games of the season, the Buckeyes should actually be challenged by the Badgers. Right?