Ohio State Looks To Tame The Northwestern Wildcats

Chip MinnichCorrespondent INovember 8, 2008



Game Ten: Northwestern Wildcats

Location: Ryan Field (Evanston, IL) 12PM EST, ESPN2

Head Coach: Pat Fitzgerald

Northwestern Players Who Were Recruited By Ohio State: N/A. Northwestern CB Jordan Mabin was on Ohio State's radar, but was not offered a scholarship.

Northwestern Rushing Offense vs. Ohio State Defense

Northwestern's rushing offense was largely centered around RB Tyrell Sutton, who is out for the year with an injury.

Backup RB Omar Conteh is also out for this game, leaving the starting RB to Stephen Simmons.

Backup QB Mike Kafka started last week against Minnesota and ran for over 200 yards in that victory, and Kafka will see playing time today against Ohio State.

Northwestern's rushing offense ranks seventh in The Big Ten, while Ohio State's rushing defense is ranked third. Considering how Ohio State's defense has been improving over the last few weeks, and Northwestern's injury woes, I will give the edge to Ohio State here in this area.

Edge: Ohio State

Northwestern Passing Offense vs. Ohio State Defense

Northwestern QB C.J. Bacher will return to play against Ohio State, but backup QB Mike Kafka will also play today. Northwestern's passing offense ranks 6th in The Big Ten, while Ohio State's pass defense ranks first.

Edge: Ohio State

Ohio State Rushing Offense vs. Northwestern Defense

Ohio State's rushing offense ranks 6th in The Big Ten, while Northwestern's rushing defense ranks fourth.

Considering how Penn State truly limited Ohio State's Chris Wells last game, and Ohio State having a week to refine its struggling offense, I look for Ohio State to concentrate on running the ball against a determined Northwestern defense, wearing them down and controlling the clock.

This should be the primary focus of the game for both sides—if Ohio State has success, Northwestern is in trouble. If Ohio State struggles, this could be a low-scoring affair.

Slight Edge: Ohio State

Ohio State Passing Offense vs. Northwestern Defense

Another interesting area to see is if Ohio State has improved its passing game with its bye week. Ohio State ranks 10th in The Big Ten in passing offense, while Northwestern ranks ninth in pass defense.

Considering Ohio State will be without WR Ray Small due to suspension, it should be interesting to see if Ohio State tries to incorporate other WRs such as DeVier Posey or Lamaar Thomas more into the mix today.

Slight Edge: Ohio State

Special Teams

Again, the suspension of Ray Small will be noted during this game. This is the type of game Ohio State can use to prepare Lamaar Thomas as a kickoff and punt returner.

Edge: Ohio State

Intangibles

Since Northwestern's 33-27 overtime victory over then-No. 7 Ohio State in 2004, the Buckeyes have outscored the Wildcats 160-24 in three straight wins, including 112-17 in Pat Fitzgerald's first two games in the series.

Ohio State has a 56-14-1 lead in the series, and is 25-6-1 in Evanston. Last week's victory by Northwestern over Minnesota was its first over a ranked opponent since defeating Michigan State back in 2005.

Edge: Ohio State

Prediction

Considering has had a week off to rest and retool its offense, Northwestern's injury woes offensively, and Ohio State has usually come out to play against Northwestern since the 2004 upset, I look for Ohio State to come out fired up against the Wildcats.

Ohio State 35, Northwestern 7

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