The Ohio State Buckeyes beat the Northwestern Wildcats, 40-30, after a back-and-forth fourth quarter. The Wildcats put on an impressive showing against a Top 5 team, but Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller ultimately proved to be too much for Northwestern to handle on the ground.
Everything went Northwestern's way in the first half, for the most part. The Wildcats moved the ball relatively easily on offense, scoring one touchdown as a result of Trevor Siemian's arm, another as a result of Kain Colter's legs, and kicking two field goals. Northwestern stifled Urban Meyer's offense, too. The Buckeyes were able to stay within one score at halftime, however, thanks to a blocked punt deep in Northwestern territory late in the first quarter.
Still, there was plenty of reason for the Wildcats to feel optimistic coming out of the tunnel. They had just held Ohio State to two field goals on offense, after all. The team struggled to feed off their first half momentum, however. After a field goal drive to start the half, they punted on their next two offensive possessions. Northwestern also caught a break of their own, recovering a Braxton Miller fumble on their own 7-yard line when it appeared Ohio State was about to score after a confident drive.
Carlos Hyde ran in a 4-yard touchdown on Ohio State's next possession to pull within one score. They took the lead on a 2-yard Hyde touchdown run that was set up when Siemian was intercepted to the Northwestern 16-yard line. Ohio State suddenly led 23-20.
Northwestern has earned a reputation for fourth quarter collapses, but they responded strong after relinquishing the lead. On the ensuing possession, Siemian found Rashad Lawrence for a 67-yard gain on second down to set the Wildcats up at the 7-yard line. On third down, Siemian threatened to run before pulling up to find a wide-open Cameron Dickerson in the end zone to give the lead back to the Wildcats, 27-23.
Ohio State turned right back to Hyde on the next drive, however. The beefy running back touched the ball on five of eight plays on the 81-yard drive, including a 7-yard run into the end zone to, yet again, give Ohio State the lead, 30-27.
The two teams traded punts late in the game, and Northwestern eventually regained possession on the 16-yard line with 21 seconds remaining. Siemian was sacked on 1st down, and with Northwestern out of timeouts the Wildcats were forced to spike the ball with five seconds remaining. Their attempt at a last-ditch hook-and-ladder play resulted in a fumble into the end zone, which the Buckeyes recovered to cap scoring and cover the 5.5-point spread.
Box Score Hero: Hyde finished the game with 168 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 26 carries. Braxton Miller had 68 yards on 17 carries, to go with 203 yards passing.
Siemian was efficient for Northwestern, going 13-for-18 for 245 yards and two touchdowns, but his one interception proved costly.
Rankings Ramifications: Northwestern may not drop far as a result of their close loss. They are currently ranked No. 16 and No. 15 in the AP and Coaches polls, respectively. Ohio State will remain in the Top 5.
But Did They Cover? Ohio State was favored by 5.5 points entering the game, so they were able to cover, but only thanks to a fumbled hook-and-ladder in the end zone on the last play of the game.
Next Week's Schedule: Northwestern has yet another tough Big Ten matchup, going to Camp Randall to play Wisconsin next Saturday. Ohio State has a bye before playing Iowa on Oct. 19 at home.