Ohio State 40, Northwestern 30: All hail Hyde
Running back's third TD run caps escape from upset
Ohio State's Devin Smith makes a catch.
EVANSTON, Ill. — Seemingly everything was going against Ohio State.
Northwestern had a frenzied homecoming crowd at Ryan Field, eager for the long-awaited signature Big Ten win under coach Pat Fitzgerald. The Wildcats, off last week, had extra time to prepare, and for most of the game it looked like it.
Ohio State was hardly sharp in the first half, with Braxton Miller struggling and the defense pierced by the Wildcats’ crisp offense.
When the Buckeyes fell behind by 10 early in the third quarter and then Miller fumbled near the Northwestern goal line for his third turnover, their 17-game winning streak under Urban Meyer looked to be in serious jeopardy.
But the No.4 Buckeyes haven’t gone undefeated under Meyer without being resilient. They rallied for a 40-30 victory over the 16th-ranked Wildcats.
Carlos Hyde ran for 168 yards and three TDs, the third the decisive one from 7 yards to cap an 81-yard drive with 5:22 left.
He started the comeback with a 4-yard score run to make it 23-20 after a punt-catch interference call on Northwestern gave the Buckeyes the ball at the Wildcats’ 36.
Then the defense finally got a turnover. Doran Grant stepped in front of a Trevor Siemian pass for an interception and Ohio State (6-0) took over at the Northwestern 16 with 12½ minutes left. On third-and-goal from the 2, Hyde tried to extend the ball over the goal line.
At first, refs signaled that Hyde was down, and Meyer even sent the field-goal unit on the field before reconsidering. Then the officials decided to review the call and it was ruled a TD to give OSU its first lead since early in the second quarter.
But Northwestern (4-1) would answer. Siemian threw to Rashad Lawrence, who split two Ohio State defenders for a 67-yard gain. After a holding call nullified a touchdown, Siemian found Cameron Dickinson for a 12-yard TD on third down.
But then came the Buckeyes’ 81-yard drive, highlighted by a 38-yard catch by Corey Brown that moved the ball to the Wildcats’ 22. Hyde caught an 11-yard pass and then ran in from the left side for the touchdown.
Northwestern had one last chance. But on fourth-and-1 at the Ohio State 34 with under 3 minutes left, Kain Colter fumbled the snap and then was ruled to be short of the first down.
With a soft schedule the rest of the way until playing at Michigan in the regular-season finale, a lot was riding on this game. The nationally televised game was a chance to make an impression that the Buckeyes are worthy of consideration for the BCS title game.
Ohio State took the opening kickoff and drove easily from its 25 on four straight passes. But then Northwestern stiffened. Collin Ellis knocked down a third-down pass to force the Buckeyes to settle for a Drew Basil field goal.
The Buckeyes stopped Northwestern after one first down on its first possession, but defensive end Tyler Scott stripped Miller of the ball and recovered it at the Ohio State 23. Northwestern uses a two-quarterback system, and Siemian replaced Colter behind center. But Colter was hardly forgotten. The Wildcats put him at wide receiver, and Siemian hit him in the back of the end zone on a 9-yard touchdown on third down.
It was the first time Ohio State trailed all year.
The Buckeyes regained the lead after a Cameron Johnston punt was downed at the 1 and Northwestern was forced to punt on its ensuing possession. Bradley Roby came off the left edge and smothered Brandon Williams’ punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
But the momentum was short-lived. Northwestern drove 75 yards in 10 plays, the final two on a Colter option keeper to go ahead 14-10.
The teams then traded field goals, with Ohio State’s coming after Miller overthrew an open Chris Fields on third-and-goal from the 3.
Northwestern added another field goal after stuffing Johnston on a fake punt at the Ohio State 30 to make it 20-13.
The Buckeyes’ last chance to score in the first half ended when DeSales grad Chi Chi Ariguzo made an interception after Miller was hit as he threw.
Northwestern got the ball to start the second half and drove inside the Buckeyes’ 10. But a sack by Noah Spence forced a field goal that made it 23-13.
With Hyde running hard behind a punishing offensive line, the Buckeyes closed in on a score before Miller fumbled at the Northwestern 2.