Has Ohio State forgotten how to lose?
It seems that way after how the Buckeyes withstood a gallant performance by Northwestern to win its 18th game in a row, 40-30, over the Wildcats in Evanston on Saturday night.
For once, it wasn’t Braxton Miller carrying the day, but big, burly tailback Carlos Hyde, who rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns — all of them in the second half — as the Buckeyes overcame the rain and a wild night atmosphere at Ryan Field to remain unblemished on the season at 6-0.
Northwestern (4-1) gave its all and almost pulled off the upset thanks to the play of quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian, who combined for 343 yards and two touchdowns on 25 of 30 passing. The versatile Colter was 12 of 12 passing, rushed for 16 yards and a touchdown and also caught a touchdown pass. The Ohio State defense had no answer for the Wildcat attack — the game saw five lead changes — until one key drive in the fourth quarter that decided it all.
After Hyde’s third touchdown put OSU up by four, Venric Mark returned the ensuing kickoff 38 yards to the Northwestern 41. The Wildcats drove to the Ohio State 41-yard line, but the Buckeyes stiffened, setting up a key 4th and 1. Colter tried a quarterback sneak but mishandled the snap and couldn’t get the yard he needed. OSU took over and drained enough time on the clock to secure the win (though a late fumble on a desperation play by the Wildcats led to the final score).
This Buckeye team, which seems to be filled with holes, nonetheless showed its fortitude and will to win in a hostile environment, coming back from a 10-point third quarter deficit by way of pure power football. Woody Hayes would’ve been proud as Hyde pounded his way through the Northwestern defense and rescued the precious win streak. Urban Meyer still hasn’t lost in his time in Columbus and the school record 22-game streak from 1967-69 appears to be in serious jeopardy.
Ohio State will be favored to win the rest of its games and, if that happens, it will be up to the BCS to decide whether a Buckeye team with a 25-game win streak is worthy of testing its worth in Pasadena.
Of course, don’t count out the possibility of this Northwestern team coming back to play Ohio State in the Big Ten title game and exacting some revenge.