Northwestern vs Ohio State : So it’s come to this. A Northwestern team that started its season 1-3 is just one win away from the Big Ten crown. And not only would a victory make the Wildcats an unlikely Power 5 Conference champion — it would also derail Ohio State’s bid for a return to the College Football Playoff.
Northwestern has rebounded from an awful start that made Pat Fitzgerald’s team look like a longshot for a postseason bid. Losses to Michigan (appreciable), Duke (understandable), and Akron (uh…) left the Wildcats in danger of floating to the bottom of the Big Ten. Fortunately for them, Fitzgerald was able to right the ship in time to take advantage of an even-more-down-than-usual year in the Big Ten West and rally to the program’s first division championship behind a 7-1 finish.
Ohio State has also got a little heat headed into the conference title game. The Buckeyes looked to be in trouble when they needed an embarrassing incompletion to save them from a loss against Maryland. Then, one week later, they absolutely thrashed then-No. 4 Michigan at home to secure their spot in Indianapolis. If they can keep that momentum rolling, it could be all the program needs to barge its way back into college football’s final four and playing for a chance at the 2018 national title.
Northwestern vs. Ohio State prediction:
The S&P+ ratings tab Ohio State as the nation’s No. 8 team. Northwestern ranks out at 78th, probably because they’re still a team who lost to 4-7 Akron. The Wildcats have a puncher’s chance, but the Buckeyes are peaking at the right time, and that’s bad news for any team to come out of the Big Ten West. Ohio State covers.
Time, TV channel, and streaming info
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
- TV: FOX
- Streaming: FOXSportsGO, fuboTV
- Odds: Ohio State is favored by 13 points.
Northwestern vs. Ohio State news:
- Ohio State needs a conference title and an Oklahoma loss to barge back into the College Football Playoff.
When it came to the Buckeyes, Mullens described their defense as a shortcoming, saying the offense has carried them to where they are now. With the Sooners, Mullens said that “while their defense has been a challenge, the offense has been superior.” It almost seemed as though for Ohio State, the offense having to pick up the defense is a negative, but for Oklahoma the offense carrying the team’s incredibly poor defense — one that is allowing nearly 33 points per game — is looked at as a positive.
- When Ohio State takes the field Saturday, it’ll be staring at the Big Ten Coach of the Year on the opposite sideline.
- Northwestern’s upset hopes rest on the shoulders of linebacker Paddy Fisher.
- Even with four losses, the Wildcats are one of college football’s biggest success stories (well, kinda).
Ohio State’s up and down defense — remember, the Buckeyes gave up 51 points to Maryland — will give Northwestern a chance. Thorson is the man to whom the Wildcats will turn to capitalize. The veteran quarterback peaked as a sophomore and has yet to return to those heights, but a big performance on Saturday’s national stage could restore his draft stock and earn Northwestern its first solo Big Ten title since 1995.
Thorson’s only thrown 14 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions in a dozen games this fall. He’s thrown for more than 170 yards just once since October 13. But five of those six games were Wildcat wins … so maybe NW’s best bet is a low key day from its struggling veteran QB?