Justin Fields looked awful, and Northwestern had the Buckeyes on upset watch for at least a half, but the Buckeyes prevailed in an ugly, grind it out game. Even through all the adversity, the Buckeyes prevailed 22-10 over Northwestern to win another Big Ten title.
Ohio State’s defense truly took a “bend-but-don’t break” mentality as the game progressed. Northwestern’s first few drives took a lot of time and momentum off the clock, and they piled up lots of yards on the Buckeyes. As the game progressed, the Buckeyes began to enforce their will defensively, slowly but surely starting to take a toll on Northwestern’s offensive line. They brought Peyton Ramsey down multiple times for momentum-changing sacks, and they forced 3 Ramsey turnovers (2 INTs, 1 fumble) in the second half. It may have not been pretty at first sight, but Ohio State’s defense played one heck of a game.
Say hello to the new single game rushing yards leader in Ohio State history, Trey Sermon. The Oklahoma grad transfer also had the most rushing yards ever in a conference title game in some time now I believe, too. I have been waiting for this out of Trey Sermon all season long. He has had some really productive games the last month of the season, and he finally got his opportunity to shine. When JK Dobbins inevitably left for the NFL Draft, my worry was whether Master Teague could actually handle the workload of a typical Ohio State running back.
He’s a built, physical, downhill runner who needs a complimentary, change-of-pace back like Trey Sermon to combat his weaknesses. Well, Sermon had a day. Over 320 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns, Sermon single-handedly led the Buckeyes offense down the field time and time again with massive, long runs. Coming into the game, Northwestern had the 6th ranked run defense nationally. Well, this Ohio State offensive line’s run blocking and physicality took over, and Trey Sermon did the rest.
This is how Ohio State is going to win games moving forward, controlling the clock and playing smart, turnover-free football. Ohio State once again made the College Football Playoff, and is scheduled to play Clemson January 1 in the Sugar Bowl. The Buckeyes have to contain the QB run from Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, and the deep ball passing attack from Clemson’s offense in order to stand a chance against a high-powered, resilient Clemson team.
Photo Credit: Aaron Doster / USA Today Sports