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Wildcats hoping to stop Buckeyes' lengthy winning streak

Evanston, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - 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."

10/02 10:44:25 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
5th
SFG 2
KAN 4
 
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
Final
WAKE 17
BC 23
Final
BUF 14
CMICH 20
Final
MARS 35
FATL 16
Final
PITT 28
GT 56
Final
SMISS 20
LATU 31
Final
MSU 35
MICH 11
Final
KENT 31
MSST 45
Final
STAN 38
ORST 14
Final
TCU 82
TTU 27
Final
OKST 10
WVU 34
Final
WKENT 66
ODU 51
Final
UTST 34
UNLV 20
Final
MIZZ 24
VANDY 14
Final
UCF 34
TEMPL 14
 
Final
WASU 37
ARZ 59
 
4th
CLEM 16
SYR 6
 
Final
LAMON 18
TXST 22
 
Final
TXSANANTO 0
UTEP 34
 
4th
COLST 45
WYO 24
 
4th
LSU 3
MISS 7
 
4th
TENN 17
ALA 34
 
4th
AUB 42
SCAR 35
 
3rd
PSU 7
OSU 17
 
1st
UTAH 7
USC 0
 
10:45pm Tonight
WASH
ARST
11:59pm Tonight
HAW
NEV
Final
SJS 1
BUF 2
Final
TOR 1
BOS 4
Final
NYI 7
DAL 5
Final
PHI 4
DET 2
Final
OTT 2
NJD 3
Final
MON 3
NYR 1
 
3rd
STL 3
CHI 2
 
3rd
NAS 0
PIT 3
 
3rd
MIN 6
TAM 2
 
2nd
ARI 0
FLA 0
 
1st
CAL 0
WAS 0
 
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14