Facing their second straight ranked opponent, the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes travel to upstart No. 16 Northwestern for a Big Ten showdown at Ryan Field on Saturday night.
Perhaps squashing any talk of a quarterback controversy, junior Braxton Miller returned from injury and led the Buckeyes to a 31-24 victory over Wisconsin last week. Miller tossed four touchdowns, including two to senior wide out Philly Brown, and senior tailback Carlos Hyde chipped in a game-high 85 yards.
Ohio State’s defense largely held Wisconsin and its prolific rushing attack to 104 yards, snapping Badger running back Melvin Gordon’s 100-yard game streak at four games.
They’ll face another rush-first team in the Wildcats, who are currently 18th in the country with 249.5 yards a game. Northwestern has feasted on their early schedule, winning by an average of 16.8 points, including last week’s 35-21 victory over Maine.
The 52nd ranked Wildcats defense was mainly responsible for the win. Senior linebacker Damien Proby brought back an interception 49 yards for a score, and sophomore defensive lineman Dean Lowry returned another pick for a score, as Northwestern shutout Maine 21-0 until late in the third quarter.
Senior running back Mike Trumpy rushed for a season-high 94 yards and a touchdown, while Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian split time under center. Receiver Tony Jones totaled six receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown, and his partner in junior Christian Jones was kept in check with two catches for 34 yards.
All told, the junior wide out tandem has combined for 39 receptions for 585 yards and five touchdowns this season
Now Northwestern’s loaded and balanced offense will try to snap the Buckeyes 17-game win streak. Led by Corey Brown and Tyvis Powell, Ohio State’s secondary has given up 219.4 passing yards a game and eight total touchdowns, sixth best in the conference.
A win for the Wildcats could catapult them into the Top 10 for the first time since the mid-1990s.
The game kicks-off at 8 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by ABC.
Betting Odds: Ohio State is favored by 6.5 points.
Over/Under: 58.5 points
Prediction: Ohio State 34, Northwestern 20