Staff Predictions: Northwestern Wildcats

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The Buckeyes hit the road for the first time of the Big Ten season to take on undefeated Northwestern in a nationally televised night game. The oddsmakers see the Buckeyes being less than a touchdown favorite in this one but how do our pickers see this one going down?

Kevin Noon - Publisher
I still don't know where this line of less than a touchdown came from but I am not buying it at risk of sounding overconfident. The Cats have played even "less" of a schedule thatn the Buckeyes have and while Northwestern has put up a lot of points, it has given up a lot of points as well. I really do believe that NU is one of the better teams in the Legends Division but that is not saying much with teams that either can't play offense, defense or football. Braxton Miller has a big, big game as Ryan Field turns to Ohio Stadium West Campus. Ohio State 48 Northwestern 20

Patrick Maks - Staff Writer
Winning 17-straight games -- regardless of the competition -- is no easy feat, yet Urban Meyer and Ohio State have made it look easy at times (that's a testament to both the Buckeyes' schedule and Meyer). Now? A primetime road trip against Northwestern will almost certainly challenge that winning streak. Against Wisconsin last weekend, Ohio State looked dominant on offense and above average on defense. If the Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats can attack a leaky Buckeyes secondary missing senior safety and captain Christian Bryant, expect things to get quite interesting in Evanston Saturday. Ohio State is a beatable football team and if there's any team up for the task of knocking off the Buckeyes, it's Northwestern. That said, Meyer seems to have his team -- as usual -- locked in for the contest at hand. His focus translates to his players and it's why Ohio State hasn't lost in so long. Behind Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde and the Buckeyes offense, they'll make it 18 in a row. Ohio State 41 Northwestern 35

Andrew Holleran - Staff Writer
This is the biggest home game in Northwestern's football history since.....ever? That might be a stretch, as the Wildcats went 10-2 in 1995 and made the Rose Bowl, but they never faced an opponent that season at home like they will this weekend against Ohio State. It's the first true road test of the season for the Buckeyes (Cal doesn't count) and I'm anxious to see how the team responds. Last season's first road game came against Michigan State and it was a turning point for the season, Urban Meyer says. Will the same be true this year? I don't know. I have a lot of concerns about this group, particularly on the defensive side. And the Buckeyes are just due for a letdown game, and Northwestern is more than capable of beating them. But when you win 17 games in a row, it's hard to pick against you. And I won't pick against Braxton Miller and that Ohio State offense just yet. Ohio State 35 Northwestern 31

Marc Givler - Recruiting Analyst
After a big win against Wisconsin on Saturday night, there is no time for celebrating in Columbus as the Buckeyes must now turn around and play perhaps an even more challenging opponent, on the road, in the Northwestern Wildcats. The Wildcats will get a big boost from the return of one of the nation's top running backs, Venric Mark. While Wisconsin was a tough test for the Buckeyes, this Wildcats offense will provide different challenges, most notably the short passing game which Cal used very effectively against the Buckeyes a few weeks ago. While I think the Northwestern offense will put up points against an inconsistent Ohio State defense, the only thing that has stopped the Ohio State offense to this point is itself. The Buckeyes' offense definitely has the edge on the Northwestern defense and I look for Ohio State to win a relatively high scoring game. Ohio State 41 Northwestern 31

Andy McLachlan - Team Writer
The Big Ten opener was a strong test for the Buckeyes. It may end up being the toughest opponent they face from the conference. But before making plans for Pasadena, Ohio State needs to get through a difficult trip through Evanston. Northwestern has had this game circled since early spring, knowing if they pull off the upset, they can go from "a pesky squad to beat" to "legit Big Ten contender". The name of the game is respect and while Pat Fitzgerald and his crew has ours off-the-field, I'm not too sure they have everyone's on it. Wisconsin laid a bit of a blueprint by exposing Ohio State's secondary, which is even more vulnerable with Christian Bryant out for the year. The wild-card will be Venric Mark's impact after missing pretty much all of September. Reviewing everything, I just have a hard time picking against Braxton Miller during a night game. Ohio State 44 Northwestern 38
Tom Levenick - Time and Change Contributor/Former Player
Ohio State travels to Evanston (Ill.) this weekend for another game under the lights in a "primetime tussle" with the Northwestern Wildcats. Northwestern, being 4-0 and having a bye week last week will be prepared to give it their best against our Buckeyes and Coach Pat Fitzgerald will have them ready. QB Kain Colter and star receiver Tony Jones will have their chances and starting running back, Venric Mark, will return after missing time with injuries. After a dismal pass defensive performance against Wisconsin, the Bucks will need to pressure Colter and improve their pass coverage significantly. The good news is that the Wisconsin game provided great coaching opportunities this week for Urban and staff. Offensively, I think the Buckeyes will be much better this week against the Wildcats. Despite four touchdown passes against the Badgers, I still think Braxton Miller was rusty and Carlos Hyde was too. And Jordan Hall only carrying the ball one time? I think the Buckeye offense will deliver Saturday and the defense will be much improved. Ohio State 45 Northwestern 24