(Photo courtesy Columbus Dispatch)
Kudos to all who has rebuffed the arm-twisting of the powers-that-be within the realm of the religion called college football who has dictated “forever” that Saturday afternoon, or night, is the only time for the turf to spray dirt and grass. But, Friday night lights within this wondrous world are surprisingly grand too.
Some of us, based on the habit of Saturdays being “The day” of the game(s), almost missed this one. By chance I discovered the game being on as I found myself bored and was flipping around on the channels thinking of Bruce Springsteen singing “…99 channels and nothing on.” And then … BAM … there it was, The Ohio State University’s Football team on the field against the Northwestern Wildcats. I flipped just as Northwestern’s Charlie Kuhbander nailed a 33-yard field goal – making it 7-3 with the Buckeyes up. Those three points, as it would turn out be the only points on the board for the Wildcats. This would be the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter we would witness Justin Fields zipping the ball down the middle to JK Dobbins for a 19-yard touchdown. JK Dobbins again would score at the 9:36 mark on a 5-yard plow. Haubeil would make the PAT. At this point the Buckeyes were up 21-3.
Justin Fields would later in the 2nd find Chris Olave for an 8-yard TD. PAT was good and now the Buckeyes lead increased to 28-3.
As the 2nd ended Blake Haubeil would lift our cheers as he nailed a 55-yarder and making it 31-3 as the first half clocked down to 0:00.
Each of the Buckeye’s games this year has been over before the Marching Band even stepped onto the field to entertain us and show the whole world that they are indeed “The Best Damn Band in the Land.” The cushions they held prior to the half(s) were of 25, 28, 20, 44, 38, 17, and in this one 28 points.
Including Friday’s 24-0 edge, the Buckeyes have outscored the opposition 158-20 in the second quarter. They’ve scored more than twice as many points in that quarter than in any other.
“We had opportunities in the first half to get off the field on defense,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “There were critical first downs picked up by them and momentum changers and opportunities that we missed.
“You’ve got to be able to get off the field on third down against them.”
They couldn’t. Ohio State converted on five of the first six third downs, which says just as much about execution as coaching.
None was bigger than two third-and-long conversions on Ohio State’s third series after Northwestern had pulled within 7-3.
On third-and-15, Justin Fields found K.J. Hill for 20 yards. Then on third-and-8, Fields connected with Chris Olave for 14 yards, paving the way for tailback J.K. Dobbins.
The Buckeyes was having trouble (believe it or not) jump-starting Dobbins by handing him the ball. So, instead, the play was to pass it to him as he came out of the backfield after a fake block – being wide open. Fields hit him in stride as he slashed across the middle. It would be a 19-yard score that lasted only a few seconds
Held to 22 yards on his first 9 carries, Dobbins now felt the moment he had just produced. On the Buckeye’s next series he weaved right as the Wildcats safety bobbed left and would go on for a 68-yard rampage before being pulled down at the five. The very next play the Buckeye’s play selection would be to hand it to him again (who needs a breather?) He’d plow in from the five for the score.
Later in the quarter, a bad snap out of punt formation set the Buckeyes up at the 15. It took two plays for the Buckeyes to deliver with an Olave catch from 8-yard out – his 2nd TD catch in the game – early on.
The game was literally over at this point. No one wanted to say it. Northwestern had no chance. Even if the “good-luck” gods would decide to let things happen in their favor – it wasn’t going to be cashed in as a victory. The talent equality between the two teams are simply too far apart – kind of like the distance (mileage) between NYC and Bangkok Thailand.
The evidence on this reality came as Blake Haubeil, who had missed twice inside 40 yards this season, drilled a 55-yard field goal.
The halftime score would be 31-3.
The second half began just as the first had ended. The Buckeyes scoring at what appeared as at will. Justin Fields would find Austin Mack on a 23-yarder. This would make it 38-3 as the PAT was good.
In the 4th Chris Chugunov who’d come in for Justin Fields found Jeremy Ruckert for a 7-yard TD toss. At the 7:46 mark Master Teague III shot up the middle and would be off on a 73-yard scamper. This would make it 52-3.
Justin Fields would be 18 out of 23 for 194 yards, an 8.4 average for 4 touchdowns, And JK Dobbins on 18 runs would finalize the game for 121 yards for a 6.7 per run average and 1 touchdown.
That would be the final score – The Buckeyes winning 52-3 – this certainly was no surprise. As their explosiveness gains attention across the Land – the Buckeyes will meet up next week against the Badgers of Wisconsin who fell in the upset of the year against the Illini of Illinois in a 24-23 thriller.
I must admit this scares me. Wisconsin was clearly looking ahead to the Buckeyes … a sin every team is guilty of. But I must acknowledge this Buckeyes team is so much better than we all realize (I am not the lone paranoid fan here). They are proving it week in and week out. So with that said I recall the thrashing the Buckeyes handed the Badgers back on December 6, 2014 in the Big Ten Championship when everyone predicted (except us loyal Buckeye fanatics) a Badgers win – and the Buckeyes horse-whipped them 59-0.
So allow me to hold onto that memory as the Wisconsin game nears which is scheduled for 12:00 in Columbus on Fox.