All eyes will be on Evanston, Ill. tonight as the Ohio State Football team travels north to take on the undefeated Wildcats of Northwestern. The no. 4 Buckeyes (5-0) look to stay unbeaten under Head Coach Urban Meyer while Pat Fitzgerald looks to lead the Wildcats (4-0) into the top 10 for the first time since god knows when (1996, when Fitzgerald was a linebacker).
Ohio State won its biggest game of the year last week, defeating Wisconsin 31-24 in their B1g 10 opener. Starting QB Braxton Miller returned from his injury in week 2 against San Diego State like he’d been playing all long. Miller racked up 281 yards of offense and threw for four touchdowns to lead Ohio State on their journey for another perfect season.
Northwestern is coming off a bye week, and if their past trend continues, a loss is in their near future. Under Fitzgerald, the Wildcats are 0-4 coming off bye weeks, a trend that Fitzgerald is looking to end at home under the bright lights of College Gameday.
The pressure of College Gameday being in Evanston just adds to the pressure for Northwestern, who hasn’t played Ohio State since 2008. The Buckeyes have defeated the Wildcats handily in the past, scoring 45 or more points in each meeting under Fitzgerald (54-10 in 2006, 58-7 in 2007, 45-10 in 2008).
On the flip side, it almost seems too good to be true for the Wildcats. A national spotlight is shining on them while they’re playing their best football in recent memory. Beating the undefeated Scarlet and Gray to continue their march into college football relevance would be the perfect way to showcase the new culture Fitzgerald has brought to his alma mater.
Northwestern has proven they can put points on the board, averaging 41.3 points per game this season, which is good enough for 21st in the nation. Unfortunately, Ohio State is averaging 48.2 a game, putting them at seventh in the nation. Both teams have strong ground and aerial attacks on offense, so the name of the game is going be defense tonight. If the Buckeyes can get out to a quick start like they have all year, they suck the air right out of Ryan Field. However, if the Ohio State defense doesn’t come correct, the Wildcat offense (see what I did there) could put the Scarlet and Gray on upset alert.
When: Saturday, Oct. 5, 8 p.m. ET on ABC
Where: Ryan Field, Evanston, Ill.
Spread: The Buckeyes favored by 5.5 points (Vegas Insider).