Northwestern did a great job most of the day of forcing Ohio State into third-and-long situations.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the Buckeyes converted six of those seven third downs into first downs when they needed at least six yards or more to keep their drives alive.
The OSU defense played like the defense many expected them to be at the start of the season (better late than never).
Freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor played like a savvy veteran, one game removed from a heartbreaking loss to No. 3 Penn State, in which two Pryor turnovers sealed the fate of the Buckeyes.
If there were any doubts about his ability to shake off the sting from that loss and move forward, they were put to rest in the Windy City with his performance against the Wildcats.
For the fourth straight game, the Buckeye defense held their opponent under 300 yards of total offense and to 13 points or less.
That awesome effort, combined with stellar performances by Pryor (9-of-14, 230 total yards, 197 passing, 33 rushing, three passing touchdowns) and Beanie Wells (28 carries for 140 yards and two rushing touchdowns) led the No. 11 Buckeyes to an easy road win over No. 24 Northwestern.
The Buckeyes have now won four straight over the Wildcats, outscoring them 205-34, and lead the overall series 57-14-1 and are 26-6-1 in Evanston all-time.
Ohio State, whose BCS Bowl game aspirations are alive and well, must win their remaining two games at Illinois and home vs. Michigan in The Mother of all Rivalry Games, even if the Wolverines stink!
If Penn State goes to the BCS title game, the Buckeyes will most likely be invited to the Rose Bowl.
If there is a three-way tie, MSU would go to the Rose Bowl, Penn State would most likely be an at-large BCS invitee, and the Buckeyes could be headed for the Capital One Bowl or the Outback Bowl.
Either way, it's a potential huge win-win for OSU.
The Bucks should get either a rematch vs. USC (and a chance to redeem themselves for the 35-3 beat down USC gave them in September without Wells and before Boeckman was benched) or a chance at an finally beating an SEC school (possibly Georgia, LSU, Alabama, or Florida) who as we all know, owns a 9-0 record vs the Buckeyes in bowl games all-time.
A win in either of those potential bowl game match-ups will go a long way in helping the Buckeyes redeem their program on the national big stage and remove the "big stage chokers" label they've recently been anointed with.
No. 3 Penn State has just lost 24-23 to Iowa!
Here's my (better than the BCS) Top 10 for Week 11:
1. Texas Tech (crushed #9 Ok State)
2. Alabama (eked out an OT win vs. #15 LSU)
3. Texas (easy win over Baylor)
4. Oklahoma (dominated Texas A&M)
5. Florida (tripled up Vandy)
6. Boise State (blow out win over Utah State)
7. USC (survived against #21 Cal)
8. Ohio State (pounded #24 Northwestern)
9. Utah (3-point win over #11 TCU)
10. Penn State (crushing 1-point loss @ Iowa)
If Tx Tech and/or Bama lose, it's going to be EXTREMELY messy for the BCS....so here's to both of them losing hopefully!
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