Ohio State Buckeyes vs Northwestern: brutally honest preview

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ESPN College Gameday will visit #16 Northwestern hosting the #4 Ohio State Buckeyes, a.k.a. the Red Menace, the Evil Empire, who entered the week a 4 point favorite. Then with the news of Venric Mark not being 100% fully involved in the game (Fitz said they’ll have him in some capacity), now a 6.5 point favorite. (Update: Venric was full-go in practice yesterday and NU says he’ll be 100% Saturday night)

It’s the best two teams in the Big Ten no doubt. And if the Ohio State Buckeyes reign of terror over the Big Ten ends, perhaps it will be in Evanston.

This is a Rocky Balboa vs. Ivan Drago match-up.

Urban Meyer is Drago, making the Ohio St. SID the Politburo! Our hero is…well, Kain Colter. With the recent APU (All Players United) story playing out in the local and national media, Colter is the only true protagonist here. And there’s a lot about Kain, both on and off the field, that makes him truly heroic.

If you have a soul, you’re rooting for the best QB in college football wearing #2 not named Johnny Manziel.

Northwestern is just 14-59-1 versus OSU overall and a mere 2-35 since 1964. And the last four NU losses in the series produced final scores: 45-10, 58-7, 54-10, 48-7.

The Ohio State Buckeyes versus Northwestern has been Drago vs Apollo Creed lately.

TV: ABC 7PM Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit (it’s Ohio State Buckeyes and Northwestern alumni in the booth!)

ESPN College Gameday pregame show 8-11 AM (Remember this outrageous sign from the last time Gameday was at a NU game three years ago?)

SPREAD: Ohio State Buckeyes -6.5

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#3 Ohio State Buckeyes preview:

The Big Ten Network’s overwhelmingly favorite team enters on a 16 game winning streak and leading the Big Ten in scoring offense at 48 ppg. They’re also second in the league in rushing offense 287 ypg and fourth in rushing defense 87 ypg allowed. Of course, those stats are inflated because they haven’t really played anyone.

However, given the way the league looks, they might go undefeated again. Are they better than last year’s Ohio State Buckeyes that went 12-0? I do know this, they have a schedule more conducive to going undefeated than last year’s team. If they get past NU, they might just run the table.

Of course, no one wants to see the Ohio State Buckeyes versus the SEC Champion in the title game again.

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Now they have Carlos Hyde back so they’ll be getting that offense into yet another gear. Of course, you know who else will get a lot of the carries Saturday night.

“Jordan Hall has got to be involved.  That was a decision we kind of made,” Urban Meyer said.

“We thought and we knew it was going to be very hard to run in there the way they play their defensive line.  They play them in those four I’s and they are very good against the rush.  Those are our top two backs, and we are working on that now.”

#16 Northwestern Wildcats Preview:

Despite all the speculation by local and national media about Pat Fitzgerald being a strong candidate to replace Lane Kiffin at USC, Vegas seems to think otherwise. What you’ve heard about that is just noise. And I’ve been up to my ears in Pat Fitzgerald leaving to coach elsewhere noise. Even though it’s hard to imagine him leaving NU  before the new lakefront facility is completed. And even then, remember Fitz is a NU alum with very strong ties to the school. If he turned down Michigan, he can turn down USC.

The Chicago Tribune has portrayed Fitz as the next Nick Saban. Sometimes they deem him the next Knute Rockne. If NU pulls off the upset Saturday night, they’ll likely deem him the next Vince Lombardi by Sunday morning.  Pat Fitzgerald is a very hot commodity in the college football ranks. Just not for USC.

And watch his stock soar if he wins this game. Despite all the hype, you must remember though that Fitzgerald is 26-30 all time in conference play. And he only went 4-2 versus Ron Zook.

Thank goodness this game is coming, so people can stop talking about Lane Kiffin, and Lane Kiffin’s replacement.

(now if you want to talk about Layla Kiffin…sure!)

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Some may say this game will be overhyped…to that I say whatever gets America to SHUT UP about “Breaking Bad.” I DON’T CARE ABOUT BREAKING BAD. We need Ohio State Buckeyes versus Northwestern Wildcats to get here now, so we can move the conversation to something else.

NU enters the game averaging 41 ppg, 4th in the league in rushing, 4th in total offense. Expect Venric Mark to add a boost on special teams. And that boost could be huge, if it’s a close game.

Why does Rocky IV have 3 different montage sequences? How can you have more than one?

Brutally Honest Prediction: Ohio State Buckeyes 35, Northwestern 17

Brutally Honest Record: 59-22

The Wildcats lead the Big Ten in interceptions. However, they’re also last in the Big Ten in passing defense. While that stat is misleading because the ‘Cats have played most of the season with a big lead, forcing their opponents to pass against them, you need to remember that also the Ohio State Buckeyes are second in the league in passing efficiency. (Nathan Scheelhaase and the Illini are first.)

Braxton Miller will make plays through the air; yes I know the Ohio State Buckeyes are a run-first team. It will be much more competitive than we’ve seen in this series lately, but the Ohio State Buckeyes still rule the roost.

Listen to my Northwestern and Illini reports every Tue at 10:30 AM on KOZN 1620 The Zone

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan and 1620 The Zone, he also writes for Chicago Now. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and Facebook, subscribe to his RSS feed

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