WNUR’s Predictions for Northwestern vs. Ohio State
The WNUR Sports staff weighs in with their predictions for this Saturday’s football game between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Ohio State Buckeyes. If you want in on the action, simply leave your prediction in the comments below, or you can tweet them @WNURSports.
Joe Misulonas (@jmisulonas): Ohio State, 41-38. Both teams come out firing offensively. Braxton Miller rips apart the Northwestern secondary, but the Wildcats used their bye week well, and the two-headed attack of Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian keep it close the entire game. Ultimately, Northwestern can’t keep up with the Buckeyes and lose by three. Player to Watch: Braxton Miller. If Miller’s playing at his top potential, he’s nearly impossible to beat. But if he has lingering side effects from injury or makes a few bad passes, Northwestern could be able to force a few turnovers and contain him. Also watch Venric Mark, who is basically making his season debut after only having 11 carries during the Cal game.
Zach Kisfalusi (@zKisfalusi): Ohio State, 31-24. In the largest game since the mid 90s, Northwestern battles Ohio State on Saturday. David vs. Goliath could not compare to this match up. Northwestern continues their trend of slow starts and never reels in the Buckeyes. Player to Watch: Kenny Guiton.
Jim Sannes (@JimSannes): Ohio State, 27-21. This Northwestern team is supremely talented. However, Ohio State’s prowess on rush defense will be enough to keep the ‘Cats offense in check. Expect Pat Fitzgerald and Mick McCall to get creative offensively, but the Buckeyes will pull out the victory in a tight one. Player to Watch: Venric Mark. Duh.
Ryan Connelly Holmes (@RConnellyHolmes): Northwestern, 38-35. Why? OSU scored fewer than 40 for the first time this season against Wisconsin because they averaged fewer than 5 YPC for the first time. If the Front 7 can do the same, Miller and Kenny G will have to pass more where interceptions are possible. A couple INTs and Venric Mark’s return get NU close to 40 points and 5-0. Player to Watch: Jeff Budzien (Hint: Field goal difference).
John Castellanos (@JJCast15): Northwestern, 24-21. This game is going to be determined by who can protect their quarterback the best. Player to Watch: Tyler Scott. Look for him to disrupt Braxton Miller and cause an OSU turnover. In the end, a late field goal decides the game.
Josh Walfish (@JoshWalfish): Ohio State 31-27. Northwestern is one of the few teams that can stop Ohio State, but it won’t this weekend. The Buckeyes will win this game with Braxton Miller throwing two touchdown passes to Devin Smith. For the first time since the loss to Texas A&M in 2011, NU won’t lead in the fourth quarter. Player to Watch: Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier.
Cameron Songer (@CameronSonger): Ohio State, 34-31. Plenty of Buckeyes fans are scared about this game, but Ohio State just has more depth and athleticism than Northwestern. Expect the energy of homecoming and GameDay to affect the game, as well as the return of Venric Mark. Player to Watch: Carlos Hyde. If Northwestern can keep Hyde and the rest of the Ohio State ground game bottled up, they may be able to pull off the upset. If Ohio State’s offense is balanced, it’s over for NU.
Ben Goren: Ohio State, 41-17. I really do wish I could see NU winning this, but OSU is way too good to let their national championship dreams die in Evanston. Person to Watch: Urban Meyer. Expect a gameplan that will pick on the second corner spot and halftime adjustments that will make Pat Fitzgerald’s head spin.
Nick Scoliard: Northwestern, 28-24. This is going to be heart wrenching to watch, and it will be way too close for comfort the entire game. Expect a lot of zone from the ‘Cats to contain the option and Braxton Miller’s legs, and for the DB’s to not let up the deep ball. Down the stretch, Ohio State will make an NUesque blunder and lose the game. Player to Watch: Dwight White. He got the starting job over Matt Harris and he will need to have the game of his life to defend the Buckeyes’ receivers. Expect him to be targeted early and often.
Jason Dorow (@jasondorow): Ohio State, 38-30. Wisconsin proved last week that Ohio State’s achilles heel is its secondary, as Jared Abbrederis torched the Buckeyes for over 200 receiving yards. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian will need to avoid turnovers and move the ball effectively through the air to give the Wildcats a shot. The game will come down to who can control the line of scrimmage and finish off their drives, and the size and talent of the Ohio State linemen should allow them to do just that. Player to Watch: Dan Vitale. The superback may go overlooked by an Ohio State defense that has its hands full with an array of NU receivers.
Matt Cowen (@mattcowen13): Ohio State, 40-28. Both offenses can score with anyone, but the Buckeyes will make a couple of plays on defense to get it done late. Players to Watch: Ohio State: QB Kenny Guiton – We know Braxton Miller will start, but can Guiton come in for a change of pace and stoke the Buckeyes? Northwestern: RB Venric Mark – Talk about a free agent pickup! ‘Cats get their All-American back just in time for conference play. Can he run NU to victory?
Samantha Sterling (@SamSterlingNU): Northwestern, 35-30. Why? I believe in the underdog. Yes, OSU is favored to win this game, but only by a touchdown. Anything can happen, especially since Northwestern has started to pick it up in the 4th quarter this season. Fan support this weekend is crucial – they need to make Ryan Field a sea of purple. Players to watch: Ohio State: Braxton Miller; star QB back from an injury, so its the perfect time to be pounced on by the Wildcat defense. NU: Treyvon Green; a running back who is running his way into fans’ hearts with five touchdowns on the ground so far this season.
Ari Ross (@aross50): Ohio State, 34-27. The outcome of the game heavily depends on Northwestern’s defense. If they can stop, or at least slow down, Braxton Miller and Ohio State’s offense, Northwestern will have a chance. Both teams will put up points, its just a matter of which defense will step up. Expect it to be similar to the Wisconsin game, where Ohio State jumps out to an early lead, and Northwestern’s 2nd half rally isn’t enough. Player to Watch: Venric Mark. If he can play well in his first game back, Northwestern might have a chance to stay with Ohio State’s offense, no matter how the defense does.
Andy Linder (@alinder422): Northwestern, 27-24. After surviving a near scare at home last week against Wisconsin, Ohio State will come out sluggishly out of the gate Saturday night in Evanston. A strong Trevor Siemian-Venric Mark combo gives Northwestern an early lead, and kicker Jeff Budzien kicks the game winner in the final seconds to complete the upset. Players to Watch: Northwestern: K Jeff Budzien; Ohio State: RB Carlos Hyde.
Ryan Fish (@TheFishTweets): Ohio State, 33-28. As much as I want Northwestern to pull the upset on National TV and cement its place among college football’s elite, I think Ohio State is ultimately too strong and escapes with a down-to-the-wire win. I think the Buckeyes offense makes a big play in the mid to late 4th quarter to take the lead and the Buckeyes defense makes a crucial stop in the closing moments to thwart an inspiring comeback attempt by the ‘Cats. But I think NU is encouraged by their play and that propels them going forward this season. Player to Watch: Everyone and their grandma will tell you it’s last year’s All-American Venric Mark, coming back from injury with a desire to prove himself… and they would be absolutely correct. But don’t forget about Kain Colter. He was a bit underwhelming in the win against Maine and is hungry to get back on track, and he may have some big plays with the Buckeyes’ defense focused on Mark.
Brendan Connelly (@bconnandabenz): Northwestern, 34-30. A back and forth battle ends with Ibraheim Campbell intercepting Braxton Miller with the Buckeyes trying to make a game-winning drive. Trevor Siemian with a huge game. Not creative, but whenever an All-American makes their first game back from injury (Venric Mark) against the number 4 team in the country, he’s a player to watch. For Ohio State, I’m going with Corey “Pitt” Brown stepping in for the injured safety Christian Bryant. Maybe he’ll step up but hopefully Colter/Siemian can exploit his inexperience.
Jacob Altstadt (@jw_stadt): Northwestern, 38-35. This is a match-up between two high powered offenses, with very similar no-huddle spread offenses, that is bound to produce a well-matched high scoring game. It will be interesting to see if Northwesterns’ defense can maintain its dominance in the secondary, and I believe it will do so, which will give NU the slight edge as they are able to record turnovers and a possible pick six, enabling them to edge out OSU by a field goal. Players to Watch: Venric Mark. It is reported that Mark will play in the game versus in Ohio State in his first full game since Cal. If he can find the explosiveness that gave him great success last year, then he will not only be able to even out the game on the ground, but also, open up the option for Colter and the passing game for both QBs. If Mark can find his stride early, it will greatly benefit NU. OSU: Ron Tanner/Corey Brown/Vonn Bell. In the OSU-Wisconsin game, the Buckeyes lost their starting safety and key vocal leader, Christian Bryant, to an ankle injury. Whoever it is that starts in his place will have huge shoes to fill not only performance wise, but also leadership wise, and it will be an area that the Wildcats will look to exploit offensively. If OSU cannot make up for the loss of such a big defensive piece, they will have a hard time being able to stop the Colter/Siemian pass threat.
Bob Hayes (@_BobHayes_): Ohio State, 41-30. Braxton Miller and the Buckeye offense has little problem right out of the gate against the Cats’ shaky secondary and overall less athletic defense, quickly putting pressure on the Northwestern offense. On the offensive end, Northwestern will try a lot of its cute bubble screens and find little success, with similar results coming from Colter attempting to run the read option against that monstrous D-line. The offense will eventually find out what’s working, and some big plays from Venric Mark and Tony Jones will keep the Cats in the game, but the Buckeyes will ultimately be too tough to contain. Player to Watch: Ibraheim Campbell. The redshirt junior has been a huge playmaker the past couple of seasons and the anchor of a an inconsistent secondary. A strong performance from Campbell will be absolutely vital if the Cats want any shot keeping up with the potent Ohio State offense.
Nick Brito (@burrito_man): Northwestern, 42-38. Both teams are characterized by high scoring offenses and turnover based defenses. It will be an outright slugfest with whichever team can get to the endzone the most. The two quarterback style will make both teams similar. Players to Watch: WR Evan Spencer from Ohio State. (A Northern IL native.). Kain Colter, Northwestern.
Ohio State wins 38-31. Northwestern’s offense has enough tricks up its sleeve to keep the Wildcats in the game, but Braxton Miller’s ability to run and keep plays alive will ultimately be too much for the Northwestern defense to handle.
Players to watch: Venric Mark, running back, Northwestern and Carlos Hyde, running back, Ohio State. Two of the Big Ten’s top 10 rushers last season, both Mark and Hyde have missed three games this year. Whichever back can return to last season’s form faster will give his team an edge.