Friday was a rematch of the 2018 Big Ten Championship game for No. 4 Ohio State and Northwestern.
The result was the same for the Buckeyes, with the score even more lopsided. Ohio State thrashed the Wildcats 52-3 in their own backyard under the Friday night lights, proving for the seventh straight game that its opponent can only hang with the Buckeyes for little more than a quarter of football. Here are five things that stood out to The Lantern in the game:
Olave avenges no-catch performance
Seven Ohio State players caught passes against then-No. 25 Michigan State, but Chris Olave was not one of them.
The sophomore wide receiver had an extra week to think about it, and his performance against Northwestern secured a different narrative.
Olave led both teams with two touchdown receptions, five total catches and 60 yards –– all in the first half. His touchdowns and catches tied career highs.
“People get frustrated in the locker room, but we kinda get more unselfish in the receiver room,” Olave said. “Without any catches, we just move onto the next one. That’s how we work.”
Now with six receiving touchdowns on the season, Olave leads the team, and his 20 receptions are No. 2 among the Buckeyes, even with the zero-catch game.
With a 20-yard touchdown to put Ohio State on the board in the first quarter, and an 8-yarder to extend the lead to 28-3 late in the second, Olave did irreparable damage to a Northwestern defense ranked No. 26 in total defense entering the game.
Pass defense dominates
Ohio State has been firing on all cylinders defensively the entire season, and the Northwestern game was no different.
The Buckeyes smothered the Wildcats’ passing attack and had their best performance of 2019, limiting junior quarterback Aidan Smith to completing 6-of-20 passes for 42 yards and one interception.
This marks the second game this season during which Ohio State has held its opponent to less than 50 passing yards in a game, the other instance coming when sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez went 8-for-17 for 47 yards in Ohio State’s 48-7 victory over Nebraska.
In addition, both of these performances rank well below Georgia Southern’s statistic as the worst passing team in the NCAA, with the Eagles averaging only 56 passing yards per game.
Ohio State’s defense is currently allowing only 136 passing yards per game, which ranks it No. 2 in the country only behind its upcoming opponent in No. 13 Wisconsin.
Four more scores for Fields
Sophomore quarterback Justin Fields had another stellar performance Friday night against Northwestern.
While it was the first game in which he did not have a rushing touchdown this season, Fields still completed 18-of-23 passes for 194 yards and four touchdowns to lead Ohio State to a comfortable victory.
His four scores raise his current touchdown total to 30 on the season, which matches the pace of former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins this past season.
One of the several records Haskins set last year in his historic play was the single season total touchdowns record at 54.
Not even a year later, Fields is on pace to match it — with the potential to break it — with five games yet to go in the regular season along with possible conference championship and bowl games to play.
Fields’ toughest test of the season will come Saturday against the No. 1 passing defense in the country in Wisconsin.
Dobbins runs up record books
Junior running back J.K. Dobbins is quickly climbing the charts in the annals of Ohio State history.
His 121 rushing yards against Northwestern put him at No. 5 on the all-time program rushing list, jumping Chris Wells to land at 3,403 career yards. Dobbins is just 559 yards from overtaking Ezekiel Elliott for second place, and with a possible eight games remaining in the season, that would require less than 70 yards per contest.
Dobbins had just 28 yards on his first 11 carries against Northwestern, with only one run of more than 3 yards. The Texas native got going, however, when he beat a Wildcat defender down the middle of the field on a receiving route, where Fields hit him for a 19-yard
On the very next offensive snap, Dobbins found daylight with a 68-yard rush before punching in a 5-yard touchdown on the following play.
Dobbins’ back-to-back touchdowns blew the game open and set up another uncompetitive second half amid a Buckeye blowout.
Now with 947 yards on the year, Dobbins sits at No. 4 in the country, but he said he isn’t finished yet.
“I just gotta have an amazing game, do amazing things,” Dobbins said. “I feel like I haven’t done that yet.”
Haubeil hits historically long kick
Up 28-3 with seconds remaining in the second quarter, the Buckeyes didn’t need much extra momentum.
Blake Haubeil provided it anyway.
Lined up at the Northwestern 38-yard-line, the Ohio State coaching staff opted to give the junior kicker a crack at a 55-yard field goal rather than toss a Hail Mary to the end zone.
Haubeil drilled it, marking a career high and the longest field goal by an Ohio State kicker since Mike Nugent in 2004.
The sideline erupted behind the raised hands of the officiating crew, and Ohio State sprinted to the locker room with a 28-point lead and the game’s ultimate result well in hand.
“It’s incredible. Just the love and support the team has shown throughout the year, it just made it that much more special,” Haubeil said.