The Ohio State Buckeyes were heavy favorites against the Northwestern Wildcats heading into Saturday. Even after a close 24-20 victory, there are plenty of reasons for optimism in Columbus, Ohio. Here are three positive takeaways from the team’s performance:
A Turnover-Free Day on Offense
Northwestern came into Saturday’s matchup against Ohio State with plenty of confidence, coming off three-straight victories against Big-Ten opponents. The Buckeyes were reeling after suffering their first loss of the season to the Penn State Nittany Lions.
It was crucial for the Buckeyes to not give the Wildcats any extra opportunities when the two teams clashed. Credit is well-deserved for J.T. Barrett throwing zero interceptions on 32 passing attempts as well as the entire Buckeye offense for not putting the ball on the ground once.
A Hot Start
Ohio State couldn’t have asked for a much-better start than the one they had against the Wildcats on Saturday. After the Buckeye defense forced a punt, the offense had a nine-play 94-yard drive for a touchdown to put OSU up 7-0. On the following drive, Northwestern quarterback Clay Thorson threw his lone interception of the day. Ohio State converted the turnover into points with a field goal to extend the lead to 10-0 with 6:36 remaining in the first quarter.
A Balanced Rushing Attack
Mike Weber, J.T. Barrett and Curtis Samuel all had plenty of chances rushing the ball on Saturday. Mike Weber led the team with 14 rushing attempts, followed by 13 for Barrett and seven for Samuel. The Buckeyes also averaged 5.1 yards per rushing attempt on the day. The problem wasn’t getting touches for the playmakers on the offense, as each had their fair share of carries. However, how those rushing attempts were dispersed over four quarters is up for debate.
The Ohio State Buckeyes didn’t have an impressive four-quarter showing over the weekend and clearly have plenty of room for improvement. With that being said; the team played better than the final score indicated.