Ohio State-Northwestern | Scarlet & Gray Matter

Ray Stein
Buckeye Xtra
Teammates help Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert celebrate his 7-yard touchdown catch against Northwestern. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Ray Stein’s observations about Friday’s game:

The game at hand

• Short-attention-span synopsis: Not Buckeyes’ finest three hours, and they still win by 49. “Trap” game proving elusive. Coach Day welcomes first visit to Evanston, enjoys Ryan’s Field. New slogan: “Ohio State — Chicago’s Other Big Ten Team.” Wisconsin was watching; was Wiscy worrying?

Pregame buzz: This week on a special Friday edition of Night Frights, Ohio State faces another prime-time trip to a lesser-regarded Big Ten West team. Previous seasons’ episodes proved perilous for the Buckeyes, who broke a toe in Iowa and cracked a tooth at Purdue. Would Northwestern deliver a forearm shiver to shatter another promising season?

• Worth the trip?: Veteran OSU fans know that Northwestern’s Ryan Field is the smallest of the Big Ten’s 14 stadiums but among the easiest to land a ticket. That’s especially true when the Wildcats are staggering, as they are this season. Thus explained the bold mix of scarlet and purple in the seats at the start, followed in the second half by a decidedly dominant red.

• Spread the wealth?: Ohio State is outscoring opponents by an average of nearly 42 points per game and Northwestern runs an offense that’s so outdated they actually watch film every week — 35 mm, on a reel-to-reel player. And yet the Buckeyes were only 28-point favorites? Trap games are real, but people betting on OSU are making real money.

This week in vanity plates: TGI EASY

The View

How the team sees it: That was a good, smart team we played. But you’d think they would know better than to try to get in our heads about too-long grass.

How the pollsters will see it: Every week we keep expecting you to face a roadblock and every week you glide over it like a speed bump.

How Buckeye Nation sees it: Can we admit to being disappointed that Wisconsin won't be coming in undefeated?

Hey, what Day did say?

What he said: “The first (Northwestern) play we had 10 (players) on the field, so that wasn’t a good start.”

What it means: “We thought it was only fair to give our opponent one chance to score a touchdown on us.”

They said it

Your turn/the channel: Everybody loves an underdog, of course, but no one champions a long shot like the television network broadcasting whichever game David Tech is playing against Goliath State. So it was Big Ten Network analyst Brock Huard who caught a bouquet of Twitter ire for pulling a little too hard for the team in purple in a somewhat competitive first quarter. After OSU stomped the gas, Huard’s jaw dropped, like everyone else’s.

This week in College GameDay signs: The ESPN crew spent Saturday in Happy Valley to pump the Michigan-Penn State game, so there was plenty of hate for Jim Harbaugh, who apparently wears socks on the beach and hands out raisins for trick-or-treat. But the Buckeyes were a target, too, on one slab of cardboard: “The only thing weaker than Ohio State’s schedule is Michigan’s offense.”

Numbers for dummies

138: Second-quarter scoring margin for Ohio State this season — 158 points for, 20 against

.561: OSU’s third-down conversion percentage after going 8 of 14 against Northwestern. The Buckeyes entered the week leading the nation.

2.0: Yards per pass attempt for Northwestern; its quarterbacks were 6 of 21 for 42 yards

On tap

All this talk about Ohio State and trap games, and look who got caught in the irons on Saturday. Wisconsin committed two fourth-quarter turnovers and blew a 23-14 lead against Illinois to fall 24-23 on a game-ending field goal. The Badgers still play defense, of course, but their loss takes some of the starch out of Saturday’s showdown in Ohio Stadium.


Best responses to the game on Twitter:

@TessBodley: Man, I don’t get tired of saying Olave I Olove you!

@MattTwombly1: The only thing Buckeye fans staying in Chicago and Wildcat fans have in common is, they’re both taking an L

@GophersForever: Why is an ‘N’ painted at midfield for an Ohio State home game?

@H_Grove: Ohio State is the best team in the country right now. If you can argue the contrary, please do.

@CSchwepe: Thanks for killing next weekend’s hype Wisconsin

Horseshoe haiku

It takes one finger

to count Big Ten royalty;

can kings keep focus?

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