This past Saturday (October 29th) the Buckeyes were almost handed yet another surprising defeat.
Northwestern came in this weekend 4-3 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play. The last time they beat the Buckeyes was 2004 in their own stadium. The last time the Wildcats beat the Buckeyes in the Shoe was 1971.
And the scare of Saturday was that it looked as if that piece of trivia was going to change.
But it didn’t! Hail Mary ….. !!
It all began well, in the first Mike Weber was the first to score on a 1-yard blast, the extra point being good, Buckeyes 7 N’Western 0. Then later Tyler Durbin nailed a 35-yard field goal – making it 10-0 Buckeyes.
In the 2nd it got more competitive.
This was not your normal Northwestern team that has faced the Buckeyes over the years. This is a new and improved version. Coach Pat Fitzgerald has his Wildcats playing “big”.
QB Clayton Thorson was 25 for 42 for 256 yards with a touchdown and a first-quarter interception for Northwestern. Austin Carr, the Big Ten’s leading receiver, caught eight passes for 158 yards. And Justin Jackson plowed a hard 76 yards in the game.
My initial prediction in the pre-game piece was way off base. In truth I felt it was as I stroked away at my computer writing of my nonsense prediction. The four-point victory for the Buckeyes was truly more in sync with their young and learning abilities, and Northwestern’s talent that certainly should never be equated as a lucky day. They are a good team.
The Buckeyes though managed to pull it together, as they often do, when Curtis Samuel ran for a 3-yard touchdown with 9:43 left to give No. 6 Ohio State a lead, and Barrett converted two third downs on the game-sealing drive in a 24-20 victory.
Northwestern (4-4, 3-2) got to the Ohio State 3, but settled for a 33-yard Jack Mitchell field goal to close to 24-20 with 3:31 left. The Buckeyes mounted a final clock-eating drive. Barrett hit Noah Brown for 16 yards on third-and-8 and then took off on a 35-yard run to convert a third-and-10 and put the Buckeyes in the clear.
”It was a pretty good chess match back and forth, and I just loved the way we finished it off,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.
JT would end the game 21 for 32 for 223 yards, adding 77 yards on the ground. It would be the first time in his career as a Buckeye that he never had a hand in a TD in a game.
”I’m comfortable where we’re at,” Barrett said. ”I know there’s things we can absolutely be better at as far as our offense. We’re executing.”
Mike Weber rushed 14 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns, the first coming on Ohio State’s opening drive as I previously mentioned. He found the end zone again in the second quarter, from 23-yards out.
Curtis “Everything” Samuel had seven catches for 99 total yards.
It ended well for the Buckeyes. But the scare was real. And, as is the facts here, consider this a gift. Northwestern is a good team. Thorson is a good QB and Carr is a great receiver.
Now comes the Cornhuskers of Nebraska ….