After a little help from the Big Ten, No. 4 Ohio State will take on No. 14 Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game. If the Buckeyes win, they will likely be headed to the College Football Playoff.
The Wildcats are 6-1, with their only loss coming two weeks ago against Michigan State, ending Northwestern’s chance at a playoff berth. The Buckeyes are 5-0 after suffering many cancellations, which had the Big Ten change an earlier rule requiring six wins to be eligible for the championship game. The Buckeyes have blown out most of their opponents, but Indiana did play them to a 42-35 final score.
Northwestern Betting Preview: Getting the Job Done on the Ground
The Wildcats are not flashy under coach Pat Fitzgerald, but they are among the most fundamentally sound teams in the nation year after year. There is no question that the talent advantage in this game is heavily tilted towards the Buckeyes, but that has never stopped Northwestern.
Quarterback Peyton Ramsey has completed 124-of-210 passes for 1,218 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman is the team’s leading receiver with 30 catches for 344 yards and four touchdowns. The Wildcats only average 180 yards per game through the air.
Northwestern likes to control the clock and do their damage on the ground. They are averaging 170 yards per game rushing.
Drake Anderson leads the team with 256 yards on 62 carries with two touchdowns. He seems to have lost the starting job to Evan Hull, who carried the ball 13 times for 149 yards and a touchdown last week against Illinois.
The biggest positive for this Northwestern team is their defense. They are limiting their opponents to 312 yards per game and only 14.6 points per game. Brandon Joseph is one of the national leaders with five interceptions.
Ohio State Betting Preview: Best Team in the NCAA?
This Buckeyes team is superior to everyone in the Big Ten in almost all phases of the game. Even the seven-point win over Indiana didn’t seem to ever really be in doubt. They average 170 yards per game more than their opponents and an average margin of victory of 23 points.
Heisman hopeful Justin Fields leads the attack. He has completed 107-of-137 passes for 1,407 yards with 15 touchdowns and three interceptions. All three of his interceptions came against the Hoosiers.
Master Teague III leads the rushing attack that is averaging 251 yards per game. Teague has carried the ball 87 times for 426 yards and six touchdowns.
The Buckeyes defense has been excellent against the run but is susceptible in the passing game. Luckily for Ohio State fans, throwing the ball is not how Northwestern looks to beat their opponents.
Wildcats vs. Buckeyes Betting Odds & Lines
MyBookie has Ohio State as 21-point favorites.
Free Betting Pick
The problem for Northwestern is that the way to beat this Ohio State team is through the air. They are set up for a ground and pound game where they control the time of possession and wear you down. If they get down early and have to play catch-up, it will spell disaster.
Unless they can force some early turnovers, this one might be over before it starts. The Buckeyes will want to leave the committee no double that they belong in the College Football Playoff. This one is all Ohio State as they march toward another CFP berth.
Northwestern 13, Ohio State 41
Spooky Express Free Pick: Ohio State -21