EVANSTON – Down 20-13 at halftime to an inspired home underdog in the Northwestern Wildcats on the road, the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes got a much-needed taste of reality.
Coming into their game vs. the 16th-ranked Wildcats, Ohio State had never trailed at any point in the season. Beating up on the likes of over-matched teams such as Cal, Buffalo, Florida A&M and Wisconsin provided many Buckeye fans a false sense of confidence, as the Scarlet & Gray were never truly tested against a quality team.
Against Northwestern—of all teams, considering their long-standing record of futility against Ohio State—showed that despite winning, head coach Urban Meyer has a lot of work to do in cleaning up his defense and that quarterback Braxton Miller will need to play better down the stretch.
One could tell that this game was going to be hairy from the start as Northwestern came out fired up in containing Miller for much of the game and forcing three turnovers in two fumbles and picking off the Buckeyes Heisman Trophy hopeful.
That, and the unique deployment of a two-quarterback attack led by Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian that kept that befuddled, vexed and made a normal stout Buckeyes defense look like proverbially silly early on.
Miller wasn’t looking much better, and was at one point looking like he was about to be replaced by Kenny Guiton, before finally beginning to make some plays down the stretch.
Miller finished 15-of-26 for 203 yards and rush for 68 yards on 17 carries.
Make no mistake, running back Carlos Hyde bailed out the Buckeyes Saturday night in rushing for 168 yards and three touchdowns.
In the end, Northwestern had no answer for Hyde, enabling Ohio State to pull out a hard-fought win.
This writer cannot help but feeling that despite the win, the Buckeyes were a questionable fourth quarter spot on a fourth down Kolter sneak and an overturned(via instant replay) goal-line touchdown rush by the fore-mentioned Hyde away from a loss, and with the already strong anti-Buckeye bias in the media and their soft schedule, it wouldn’t come as a shock if the Buckeyes were to drop down again in the polls, and keeping their slim BCS title game hopes alive.
It’s not fair that a team is victimized by who it plays on it’s schedule, but in the case of Ohio State, they may have escaped with a gutsy comeback win on the road and pass it’s first real test of adversity, may have suffered an even bigger loss in the polls of public perception.
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Robert D. Cobb is the Founder/CEO/Senior Editor-In-Chief Of The Inscriber : Digital Magazine, for questions, comments and concerns email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow the Inscriber : Digital Magazine on Twitter at @TheInscriber