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(4) Ohio State (5-0) at (16) Northwestern (4-0)



Saturday, October 5, 8 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Frank Haynes, Senior College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: For the second straight week, the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will tangle with another member of the Top-25, this time hitting the road to challenge the 16th-ranked Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday night.

Ohio State improved to 5-0 on the season and won its 17th straight game overall by getting past No. 23 Wisconsin at home last Saturday, 31-24. The Buckeyes have yet to lose a game under head coach Urban Meyer, and they got a leg up in the race for the Big Ten's Leaders Division title by beating the Badgers.

As for Northwestern, it too is undefeated after the first month, bringing a 4-0 record into this meeting. The Wildcats were idle last weekend, giving them some additional time to prepare for this contest, which is their Big Ten opener. After kicking off the season with a win at California, NU opened a four-game homestand, which culminates this week against the Buckeyes. The 'Cats will play three of their next four on the road.

Ohio State owns a commanding 59-14-1 lead in the all-time series with Northwestern, and the Buckeyes have won the last four meetings and 28 of the last 29 overall. NU's lone victory during that span was a 33-27 upset of No. 7 Ohio State in overtime on Oct. 2, 2004.

For those who thought Ohio State would experience a full-blown quarterback controversy once Braxton Miller returned from the injury that sidelined him for a couple of games, that simply isn't the case. Miller's return to the field against Wisconsin was a triumphant one, as he matched his career-high with four TD passes in helping the Buckeyes add to their lengthy winning streak. Miller, who had missed the previous two games, went 17-of-25 for 198 yards, and while he was sacked twice, he also finished with 83 rushing yards on a team-high 22 carries. Miller is now Ohio State's all-time leading ground gainer among quarterbacks (2,151 yards). Carlos Hyde turned his 17 totes into 85 yards. Corey Brown was Miller's favorite target in the passing game, tallying eight catches for 85 yards and a pair of scores.

Despite owning one of the nation's top rushing attacks, the Badgers were held to 104 yards and only one TD on the ground by the Ohio State defense, which got nine tackles from Ryan Shazier. The unit only forced one turnover, but it logged a couple of sacks while allowing Wisconsin just a 3-of-12 success rate on third-down conversion attempts.

With Miller out of action, Kenny Guiton was brilliant in completing 68.4 percent of his passes with 13 TDs against only two interceptions, but this is Miller's team when healthy and the preseason Heisman hopeful has also hit the mark on nearly 70 percent of his throws with six TD passes and only one pick.

Despite what others may have thought, Meyer never entertained the idea of having his two signal callers compete for the job this far into the season.

"Oh, no not if he's healthy," when referring to Miller's status as the starter. He continued, "So those are no, but with Braxton, when I saw on Thursday what I saw, then there was no doubt who was going to be our starter."

Both quarterbacks are capable of doing significant damage with their legs, each having run for more than 150 yards this season. That said, Jordan Hall is the team's leading ground gainer with 427 yards and eight TDs, the Buckeyes averaging a gaudy 287.2 rushing ypg with 14 scores.

Brown and Devin Smith are OSU's top receiving threats with 24 and 20 catches, respectively, the duo combining for 585 yards and 10 TDs.

With Shazier (37 tackles, 7.0 TFL, one sack) leading the way, Ohio State allows 17.0 points and 304.0 yards per game, with its effort against the run (84.6 ypg, two TDs) being particularly impressive. The Buckeyes have recorded 11 sacks and have yet to allow more than 26 points total in any one quarter this season.

Northwestern has had similar offensive success in staking claim to its second straight and fourth 4-0 start in the last six years, averaging 41.2 points and 483.2 yards per contest. Balance has been the key for the Wildcats, as they churn out 249.5 ypg on the ground and another 233.8 ypg through the air. They are fortunate to have three guys who have rushed for more than 200 yards, with Treyvon Green leading the way with 404 yards and five TDs.

As for the team's quarterback play, both Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter have seen action, the former completing 67.1 percent of his tosses for 671 yards, four TDs and two interceptions, while the latter has been even more efficient in hitting 77.1 percent of his throws for 264 yards, three TDs and two picks.

Tony Jones is the club's leading receiver with 24 grabs for 362 yards and three TDs, and he had six catches for 69 yards and a TD in the team's 35-21 win over FCS foe Maine on Sept. 21. In all, the 'Cats churned out 251 yards on the ground, with Mike Trumpy generating 94 yards and a TD on 17 carries.

From a defensive standpoint, the Wildcats are led by Chi Chi Ariguzo (35 tackles, one forced fumble, one INT), and feature other productive guys like Ibraheim Campbell (three INTs), Collin Ellis (26 tackles, two INTs) and Tyler Scott (three sacks). Ariguzo was credited with 12 tackles in the win over Maine.

As a collective unit, the Northwestern defense is permitting 23.8 points and 426.8 yards per game, and foes have found it easier to move the ball via the pass (308.8 ypg) than on the ground (118.0 ypg), and that's mainly due to the fact that they've had to play catch-up most of the time. NU has allowed only 27 points total in the first half of its four games this season, with only 10 coming in the opening quarter, and the team is tied for tops in the country with 2.5 interceptions per contest.

NU head coach Pat Fitzgerald is excited to get Big Ten play underway.

"I think we've been a part of a lot of games that are important. This is the first opportunity to play Big Ten football so that's why it's important. That's why all of our guys come here. It's one of the first things we talk about in recruiting, is the opportunity to play Big Ten football at the best academic school in the country. And our guys are excited for that challenge to play in this conference."

The Wildcats are sure to put forth maximum effort, particularly in front of the hometown faithful, but the Buckeyes are primed to run the table for a second straight year and they aren't about to let their guard down against another ranked opponent. Expect a hard-fought battle, but for Meyer's club to claim its 18th consecutive victory nonetheless.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio State 31, Northwestern 21

10/02 10:34:28 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0
 
1:30pm Today
CAR
CLB
 
8:30pm Tonight
CAR
PIT
Final
KAN 2
DET 3
Final
CHC 8
LOS 7
Final
OAK 0
PHI 3
Final
NYY 3
TOR 6
Final
COL 5
ARI 1
Final
BAL 7
BOS 2
Final
PIT 0
MIL 1
Final
TAM 3
CWS 1
Final
MIN 3
CLE 7
Final
ATL 2
NYM 4
Final
HOU 10
SEA 1
Final
MIA 2
WAS 3
Final
STL 8
CIN 4
Final
SDP 3
SFG 2
Final
ANA 8
TEX 5
1:05pm Today
NYY
TOR
 
1:10pm Today
MIA
WAS
 
1:35pm Today
BAL
BOS
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
MIL
 
1:35pm Today
ATL
NYM
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
CWS
 
2:10pm Today
MIN
CLE
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
DET
 
2:10pm Today
HOU
SEA
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
LOS
 
3:35pm Today
ANA
TEX
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
PHI
 
4:10pm Today
COL
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
SFG
 
8:05pm Tonight
STL
CIN
 
Final
WISC 68
BGU 17
Final
MSU 73
EMICH 14
Final
VT 24
GT 27
Final
PITT 20
IOWA 24
Final
RICE 42
ODU 45
Final
UGA 66
TROY 0
Final
SYR 20
MD 34
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
COL 21
HAW 12
Final
AKR 17
MARS 48
Final
WAKE 24
ARMY 21
Final
KU 24
CMICH 10
Final
ALA 42
UF 21
Final
FIU 3
LOU 34
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
Final
NAVY 24
RUTG 31
Final
SMU 6
TEXAM 58
Final
MICH 10
UTAH 26
Final
BYU 41
UVA 33
Final
WYO 20
FATL 19
Final
MIZZ 27
IND 31
Final
PSU 48
UMASS 7
Final
MINN 24
SJST 7
Final
ILL 42
TXST 35
Final
WASH 45
GASTATE 14
Final
SMISS 21
APPST 20
Final
TOL 34
BST 23
Final
OHIO 36
IDAHO 24
 
Final
CIN 31
UMO 24
Final
MEM 36
MTST 17
Final
LSU 29
MSST 34
Final
ARK 52
NILL 14
Final
ARKST 21
UTST 14
Final
SALABAMA 6
GASO 28
Final
WVU 33
OKLA 45
Final
VANDY 34
SCAR 48
Final
NEB 41
MIAMI 31
Final
NMST 35
NMU 38
Final
HOU 47
UNLV 14
Final
FSU 23
CLEM 17
Final
ARZ 49
CAL 45
 
Final
ORST 28
SDST 7
Final
WASU 31
OREG 38
Final
BSU 34
LALAF 9
 
1:30pm Today
CAR
CLB
 
5:00pm Tonight
WAS
BUF
 
6:30pm Tonight
CLB
STL
 
8:00pm Tonight
EDM
CAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
CAL
EDM
 
1:00pm Today
CLE
BAL
1:00pm Today
STL
DAL
1:00pm Today
DET
GBP
1:00pm Today
NYG
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
IND
1:00pm Today
NOS
MIN
1:00pm Today
NEP
OAK
1:00pm Today
BUF
SDC
1:00pm Today
CIN
TEN
1:00pm Today
PHI
WAS
4:05pm Today
ARI
SFX
4:25pm Today
SEA
DEN
4:25pm Today
MIA
KAN
8:30pm Tonight
CAR
PIT
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0