Considering the events that have unfolded earlier on championship Saturday in college football, Ohio State may be in a position to need to win impressively against Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game. After 30 minutes, Ohio State leads the Wildcats, 24-7.
Ohio State started the game the way it needed with a 10-play drive traveling 77 yards and ending with a touchdown pass from Dwayne Haskins to Terry McLaurin. The defense then forced Northwestern to go three-and-out to get the ball back quickly. But after Northwestern’s defense turned in a quick defensive stand, Northwestern running back John Moten IV took off for a 77-yard run against the Buckeyes defense for a game-tying score. It was the seventh time this season Ohio State had given up a play of at least 70 yards.
But then Northwestern’s offense appeared to hit a wall. A three-and-out was followed by two straight possessions ending with turnovers; an interception in the end zone thrown by Clayton Thorson and then a Thorson fumble just moments after the Wildcats had picked off a pass from Haskins. Ohio State managed to tack on a field goal to take a 17-7 lead and has remained in control as the game approached halftime. Haskins made sure the lead was given a bit more of a cushion before the half with a 42-yard touchdown pass to McLaurin late in the half. Haskins is already up to 249 passing yards with two touchdowns.
If Northwestern is going to make a comeback in this game, they will have to do so without leading receiver Flynn Nagel. Nagel has been ruled out for the remainder of the game after limping off the field in the first half.
Is No. 10 Ohio State being caught looking ahead, or is Maryland simply taking advantage of defensive holes the Buckeyes have had all season? The Terrapins have put Ohio State in a difficult spot at halftime in College Park with freshman running back Anthony McFarland already rushing for 231 yards and two scores to help put Maryland on top of Ohio State, 24-17. Ohio State had a chance to draw even just before halftime but fumbled the ball at the Maryland one-yard line.
It was an incredibly sloppy start to the game for the Ohio State defense. McFarland ripped off an 81-yard touchdown run in the first minute of the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Maryland recovered a loose ball that fell in a perfect spot with Ohio State not prepared to recover. Ohio State’s defense forced a fumble one play later though to limit the damage. McFarland took off running for a 75-yard run after Ohio State settled for a field goal. Maryland took a 17-3 lead with their own field goal before the end of the first quarter.
Ohio State cut into the lead in the second quarter with Dwayne Haskins tossing a 68-yard touchdown strike to Terry McLaurin on the first play after a missed field goal try by the Terps. But the Ohio State defense failed on the ensuing drive by giving up a touchdown drive capped by a 16-yard touchdown run by Javon Leake.
But the Buckeyes did have one more answer with an eight-play 75-yard drive that was wrapped up by a J.K. Dobbins leap and stretch over a pile at the goal line for the score. Ohio State has not used Mike Weber in the running game, although he has been spotted on the sideline in uniform. A reason for his absence from this game has not been made public.