The Ohio State Buckeyes return to Columbus, Ohio once again and will play host to the Northwestern Wildcats. Here are our four keys to the game:
Pass Protection for J.T. Barrett
J.T. Barrett was sacked a season-high six times in the loss to Penn State last week. The Buckeyes are going up against a Northwestern team that’s shown the capability to score a lot of points against big-ten competition. Ohio State’s offensive line needs to improve; we’ll see how they’ve progressed on Saturday against the Wildcats.
Not Giving up Big Plays to the Northwestern Offense
Ohio State has a defense that tends to bend but not break against opponents in the Big Ten. Northwestern’s offense will likely struggle once they get into the red zone and deal with smaller areas of the field to make plays. However, the Wildcats have enough weapons on offense that they could score from far out or put themselves in goal-to-go situations with big plays down the field.
More Production from Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard
The top-two defensive ends for the Bucks each had a sack a couple weeks ago against the Wisconsin Badgers. In Happy Valley, neither of the two players recorded a sack. The duo of Lewis and Hubbard was expected to be a dominant one this season. Although both players certainly have been effective overall, an impressive performance from each defensive end this weekend would go a long way to building up the confidence of the defense as a whole with a few pivotal games coming up in the next month that could decide whether or not the Buckeyes make it to the College Football Playoff.
The Turnover Battle
Ohio State’s offense should be able to score plenty of points against Northwestern. That is, as long as they don’t make costly mistakes. If the Buckeyes turn the ball over early on, it could mess with the team’s psyche a bit for the rest of the game. Northwestern on the other hand, has to play lights out on offense for the most part to have a real shot to come out of Columbus, Ohio with a W.