The Northwestern Wildcats went 9-3 last season, and all three losses came in the waning minutes of regulation or an overtime. They came into tonight’s marquee matchup with the Ohio State Buckeyes looking to avoid a similar result and get a signature win.
Northwestern failed on both counts, as the Buckeyes outscored the Wildcats 13-0 in the final nine minutes of the game to beat Northwestern 40-30. That final score will sting for a while for Wildcats fans, because through 51 minutes of football, Northwestern played right on par with Ohio State.
That first 51 minutes of football was filled with the teams trading touchdowns on big plays. Eight lead changes led to a high water mark for Northwestern with 10:40 left in the third quarter when Jeff Budzien hit a 32 yard field goal to put the Wildcats up 23-13. From there on out, an Ohio State running game that had been well contained by Northwestern came alive.
Buckeye running back Carlos Hyde scored three touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to complement his 206 yards of total offense and hand the Wildcats another disappointing loss. How this will affect the psyche of Northwestern as the season continues will remain to be seen.
Next week, the Wildcats go to Madiso, WIn to take on the Badgers. Then, on Nov. 2, they go to Lincoln, NE to take on the Cornhuskers, which was one of the three teams that handed Northwestern a late defeat last season. The following week, the Wildcats host the Wolverines, another rematch of a 2012 heart breaker.
Northwestern has developed a program that can compete with anyone else in the Big Ten through three quarters. In order for the Wildcats to become a serious contender for Big Ten championships, however, they have to learn how to close out games.
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