Ohio State vs. Northwestern Top Picks: Potential Trap Game for Buckeyes

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J.T. Tuimoloau #44 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates after intercepting a pass against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Scott Taetsch/Getty Images/AFP.

No. 2 Ohio State isn’t going to lose on Saturday at unranked Northwestern, but it could be a bit of a trap game for the Buckeyes.

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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Northwestern Wildcats 

Saturday, November 5, 2022 – 12:00 PM EDT at Ryan Field

ABC has the telecast of this Big Ten matchup. The Buckeyes and Wildcats are in different divisions so they don’t play every year. They last met in the Big Ten title game following the shortened 2020 season and Ohio State won 22-10 in Indianapolis.

Trey Sermon went ballistic with 331 yards rushing and two scores on 29 carries. Yet OSU managed only 22 points!? Justin Fields was 12-for-27 for 114 yards and two picks. Patrick Ramsey was the Northwestern QB then and threw for 224 yards with two interceptions.  

Ohio State last visited Northwestern in 2019 and won 52-3. The Buckeyes are 7-2 against the spread in the past nine meetings.

The total has gone over in six of the past eight. The Buckeyes have won nine in a row and 33 of the last 34 games against Northwestern. Ohio State leads the all-time series 64-14-1. 

Stroud No Longer Heisman Favorite 

I previewed Ohio State’s Saturday game at then-No. 13 Penn State last week here at the site and recommended the Nittany Lions +15.5, and that worked out well as OSU won 44-31, the first time the Nuts have really been tested since the season opener vs. Notre Dame. 

Quarterback CJ Stroud had been the Heisman Trophy betting favorite at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review) and had a good game, completing 26 of 33 for 354 yards and a score, but is now the +180 second favorite behind Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker (-150) at the NCAAF odds.

Marvin Harrison Jr. (his dad is the Hall of Fame receiver) had 10 catches for 185 yards, and TreVeyon Henderson rushed for two scores.

If there’s one thing for Coach Ryan Day to nitpick, it likely would be that Ohio State ran for only 98 yards and 41 of those came on one Henderson burst in the fourth quarter. 

JT Tuimoloau

The best player on the field Saturday was defensive lineman JT Tuimoloau, who was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, Bednarik Award Player of the Week, and Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week.

The sophomore had 6 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, including 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 pass breakup, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He helped force 4 takeaways which led to 21 Ohio State points

“JT TUIMOLOAU!!!!” noted Ohio State fan LeBron James tweeted after the game. “Say that name again and again!” 

Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Preseason All-American receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba didn’t make the trip to State College. He injured a hamstring in the opener against Notre Dame and has played very little since.

Some believe that JSN might just end his season and start concerning himself with the NFL Draft. 

NU Yet to Win in USA 

Northwestern has been a massive disappointment at 1-7 and hasn’t won in North America yet because that one victory came in the season opener against Nebraska in Dublin, Ireland. The Cats come off a 33-13 loss at Iowa, the same Iowa team that Ohio State clobbered 54-10 on Oct. 22.  

QB Brendan Sullivan completed 77% of his passes (23-of-30) for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns. He became the first player to throw a touchdown in each of his first three games as a Wildcat since Trevor Siemian in 2011 and the first Wildcat to complete 75% of his passes in back-to-back games (min. 20 attempts) since Dan Persa did so in 2011. 

Defensive lineman Duke Olges caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Sullivan in the third quarter, the first reception of his career.

Olges became the first NU defensive player to score an offensive touchdown since Coco Azema in 2019 against Illinois and first NU defensive player with a receiving touchdown since LB Tim Riley in 2011. 

Pros and Cons

Northwestern held Iowa to a field goal on its opening drive, the sixth straight game the Wildcats have not allowed an opening drive touchdown. The Cats also converted four fourth downs on four attempts. It was the first time the Wildcats were 100% on fourth downs this year when attempting two or more. NW ran more plays than its opponent for the fourth time. 

Offense has been a problem area, though, as Northwestern ranks 120th out of 131 FBS teams nationwide at 17.9 points per game while checking in 59th in passing yards per game (249.2) and tied for 106th in rushing (113.4).

This will be the second time in Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s 17 seasons at his alma mater that the Cats will have consecutive losing seasons. They went 5-7 in 2013 and again in ‘14. 

For our NCAAF picks, it is obvious there is no chance that NW wins this game, but I think Ohio State might be a bit sloppy off its biggest road test of the year. 

NCAAF Pick: Under 62.5 Points (-110) at BetOnline

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Under 62.5 Points (-110)
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NCAAF Pick: Northwestern +38.5 (-110) at BetOnline

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Northwestern +38.5 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.