Following a week three loss to Duke, Northwestern entered the game against Ohio looking to bounce back and get back in the win column. Bounce back they did, as the Wildcats beat Ohio in blowout fashion, 35-6. They improve to 2-2 on the season as they prepare for the start of conference play.
Led by running back Evan Hull, Northwestern ran the ball at will against the Ohio defense, totaling 373 yards rushing. Hull had himself a monster performance today, putting up 216 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Not wanting to be left out, fellow running backs Andrew Clair and Anthony Tyus put up solid performances, carrying the ball for a combined 122 yards rushing and a touchdown on 19 carries. This rushing attack, when it gets rolling, can be absolutely elite and almost unstoppable at times.
If you just read the box score, quarterback Ryan Hilinski's final stat line might not jump off the page at you as overly impressive. Finishing with 88 yards on 12-20 passing, Hilinski was not asked to do much today. When your run game totals 373 rushing yards, as a quarterback your life doesn't get much easier as the pressure is taken off you and you can do what needs to be done to secure the victory.
If you can win the turnover battle in any given game, it greatly increases your likelihood of winning that week. Turnovers can swing momentum, shorten the field for the offense and will get your defense off the field and on the sideline to get a breather. That was the case for the Northwestern defense today as they tallied three turnovers, two interceptions and a fumble recovery, leading to good field position for the offense and 14 points scored off turnovers.
Aside from a last second touchdown, the Northwestern defense showed out in a big manner today. Following a 30-23 loss to Duke in which the defense gave up 558 yards of total offense, it remained to be seen just how they would bounce back against Ohio. They gave up 348 yards of total offense however a lot of those yards came after the game was pretty much out of reach, as they held them to only six points on the day.
With the blowout win over Ohio, Northwestern's non-conference schedule comes to a close. They went 2-1 against their non-conference opponents as they look to gain momentum heading into conference play, looking to repeat as Big Ten West champions for the second year in a row. Yes, it was an inferior Ohio team, but you can only beat who is in front of you and wins like this are a serious momentum builder for a Northwestern looking to make it back to the Big Ten title game.