No. 3 Ohio State meets No. 14 Northwestern on Saturday in the Big Ten championship game.
The matchup starts at 12 p.m. and will be televised on Fox. The Buckeyes (5-0) are seeking a fourth straight Big Ten title and a second straight trip to the College Football Playoff. Ohio State ranks fourth in the FBS in points per game (46.6), and Justin Fields can make one last statement to the Heisman Trophy voters.
The Wildcats (6-1) are back in the Big Ten championship game for the second time in three seasons. Northwestern ranks second in the FBS with a defense that allows 14.6 points per game. A victory would put the Wildcats on the fringe of the CFP conversation. With a little chaos, who knows?
Here’s everything to know about betting on Ohio State vs. Northwestern, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for the 2020 Big Ten championship game.
Ohio State vs. Northwestern odds
- Spread: Ohio State -20.5
- Over/under: 57.5
- Moneyline: Northwestern +800, Ohio State -1430
Ohio State opened the week as huge 20.5-point favorites to win the 2020 Big Ten championship. The moneyline for Northwestern is +800, which means a winning $100 bet on the Wildcats would pay $800 in profit. The over/under is 57.5 points for Ohio State vs. Northwestern.
Ohio State vs. Northwestern all-time series
Ohio State leads the all-time series 63-14-1. The Buckeyes have won the last eight meetings, including a 45-24 victory in the 2018 Big Ten championship game. The Wildcats’ last victory in the series was a 33-27 overtime thriller on Oct. 2, 2004.
Three trends to know
— The Buckeyes have won 20 consecutive Big Ten games by an average of 26 points per game. Ohio State is 3-2 ATS this season.
— Ohio State has won the last eight meetings against Northwestern by an average of 31.9 points per game. Only one of those games has been decided by single digits.
— The Wildcats are 5-2 ATS this season, and that includes one game as an underdog. Northwestern is 11-7-1 ATS as an underdog the last three seasons.
Three things to watch
— Justin Fields’ efficiency. Fields made short work of Northwestern last season in a 52-3 victory. He finished 18 of 23 for 194 yards passing, but that came with four TDs. The Buckeyes scored 24 points in the second quarter, and the route was on. Fields is working with two receivers who average more than 100 yards per game in Garrett Wilson (114.4 ypg.) and Chris Olave (106.5 ypg.) The Wildcats must keep those receivers in front and avoid the chunk play as much as possible.
— Ohio State’s pass defense. If the Buckeyes have a question mark, it’s a pass defense that allows 268.8 yards per game. How aggressive will Peyton Ramsey and the Northwestern offense be, especially early? Ramsey averages 174 passing yards per game, but he’s completing 59 percent of his passes.
— Turnover margin. The Buckeyes have a +7 turnover margin, and the defense has created 13 turnovers in five games. Ramsey will have to be careful around cornerback Shaun Wade, who had a game-changing pick six against Indiana. Northwestern can get turnovers too – the Wildcats have forced 16 turnovers in seven games but have also committed 12 turnovers.
Stat that matters
Ohio State out-gains its opponents by that margin in rushing yards this season. The Wildcats need to limit the Buckeyes’ rushing tandem of Master Teague III (85.2 ypg.) and Trey Sermon (68.8 ypg.) while keeping contain on Fields (47.8). It’s a big challenge for Paddy Fisher and Blake Gallagher, who have combined for 13 tackles for loss. Northwestern also needs to maintain a steady running game with Isaiah Bower (38.2) and Drake Anderson (36.6 ypg.). That’s a big challenge.
Ohio State vs. Northwestern prediction
Northwestern has been outscored 43-35 in the first quarter. A slow start against the Buckeyes could lead to a full-fledged disaster. Fields will control the tempo, and Ohio State’s ground game will pick up in the second quarter. The Buckeyes will break open the game in the third quarter with a deep TD pass to Wilson. The Wildcats will fight, but Ohio State will legitimize the Big Ten’s decision to allow them to play in the championship game. The next stop is the CFP semifinals.
Final score: Ohio State 41, Northwestern 17