Commentary: In-Game Thoughts
by Jonathan Hodges

Since I'm actually at home able to jot down my thoughts throughout the game, here's what I'm thinking:

NU kicks off.

First OSU Drive:
- OSU threw in a different play with the end-around and got a good bit of yardage off of it.
- The fumble by Small was definitely a chance for NU to capitalize but once again the ball just didn't bounce right, and OSU retains possession.
- Solid play action, went deep and picked on Battle for the long TD pass.
OSU 7 - NU 0

NU Drive:
- OSU is putting the pressure on, which didn't leave much opportunity for NU to get the easy short passes.
- 3rd and long - what a surprise, a blitz, and Bacher goes down.
- The first BAD punt of the year by Demos, for only 18 yards, puts OSU in great field position - something NU cannot afford to do.

OSU Drive:
- Wells has a nice run on first down, but is stopped cold on second down - something that NU will have to do to stay in the game.
- Another play action and another pass to Battle's side as he was getting burned by Robiskie (again).
OSU 14 - NU 0

Northwestern cannot afford to continue this first-half defensive meltdown like it has for the first 3 games of the season.
The secondary cannot afford to keep biting on the play action.

NU Drive:
- Starts off on a horrible note with a poor return by McManis, who was flattened, plus an illegal block in the back penalty.
Even with decent field position, NU would have a tough time with the OSU defense - but having 90+ yards to go is killer.
- Run by Conteh up the middle (apparently Sutton and Roberson are unavailable) for no gain.
- Another penalty in the shadow of the goal line, delay of game.  Now NU is behind the chains with horrible field position.
- Screen to Peterman - for a loss.
The conservative passing game is playing right into the hands of an aggressive OSU defense.
- Run by Roberson for about 5 yards, decent but not nearly enough.  At least there's room to punt.
- Another line-drive rugby punt by Demos, OSU gets a pretty good return.
Why have Demos rugby-style kick it when we've seen such booming kicks from him in the past?!
Demos looked like the quickest guy on the punt coverage team as he made the initial trip before Koehn finished the tackle.  Long punt returns off of poor punts are unacceptable.

OSU Drive:
- GREAT pass break-up by McManis as he flies in on the play.
- 2nd Down: great stop by Arrington who filled that hole to stop Maurice Wells.
3rd and long - get off the field!
- Hartline catch right down the middle for the 1st down, once again NU fails to get them off the field after a 3rd and long.
- Maurice Wells cutback run inside the 5 for a 1st down.
- TD as he lunges over the pile.
Northwestern cannot afford to keep handing OSU the ball with great field position!
OSU 21 - NU 0

NU Drive:
- Once again a great OSU kickoff with a poor return by NU - and the 'Cats start inside their own 20 once again.
- Bacher, under pressure once again, throws a bullet into the hands of Conteh who can't hold on.
- Solid screen pass to Peterman to pick up 6 yards, although Ward couldn't sustain the block.
- Nice catch by Ward to pick up NU's first first down of the game, with about 6:20 left in the 1st quarter.
- Conteh gains a couple on the ground.
Get Roberson into the game, he provides a better and more experienced running option.
- The pressure is on Bacher from his right side again, he's hit, the ball comes out, and OSU takes it in for the TD.
Unbelievable, you know the OSU pressure is coming yet NU can do nothing to stop the pass rush or get a quick pass off.
OSU 28 - NU 0

I knew OSU was going to get up early in this game, but this is getting ugly really quick.  There's still over 5:00 to go in the 1st quarter and OSU has 4 TDs on the board.
OSU knows NU has a pass-first strategy on offense and is attacking on all fronts.  They are not afraid of the run at all and therefore can afford to send blitzers in from the sides without regret.

NU Drive:
Let's see if NU's blocking improves at all on the kickoff.
- Nope, McManis is leveled at the 15.  Once again NU is inside the 20.
- 1st down incompletion around the LOS.
- 2nd down, Ward is open downfield but the pass is a bit high and he can't hang on.
- 3rd down - NU finally gets a break with a pass interference call on Jenkins as there was contact before the ball arrived (intended receiver was TJ Jones).
- Hopefully, NU can capitalize on its second first down of the game.
Simmons comes into the game for NU, lines up wide.
- Reverse to Simmons who is stopped at the LOS, although facemask penalty gives NU more yards.  (NU now has gained 30 yards on the drive on penalties alone).
- Run sutffed for no gain.
Announcers discussing Sutton's injury and the success he had in his first 2 years.  He did not dress for the game, although he did make the trip and is on the sideline.
- First down completion to Thompson, finally a little bit of something going.
- Run to the outside by Roberson loses 2 yards.
- NU finally runs a screen pass, but by the time it gets set an OSU defender tips the ball for an incompletion.  Another 3rd and long.
- Bacher hit hard right as he throws the ball on yet another 3rd and long blitz.  Interception.
OSU gets the ball back in NU territory again - on the 48 yard line.

OSU Drive:
- Play action, deep pass to Robiskie again, but McManis lunges in front for the Interception!
Great play by McManis but unfortunately that puts NU at its own 2 yard line.

NU Drive:
- First down, Bacher bootleg, throws a bullet to Peterman but he can't hang on.  OSU will be undoubtedly putting the pressure on.
- Completion to Woodsum out of the backfield for a couple yards, at least some breathing room.
Third and long near the goal line once again.
- Conteh shoots through the hole for a first down run - probably the best run of his NU career thus far.
NU may have had a fighting chance if it wasn't for the horrible field position they have had and the great field position they've given to OSU.
- Conteh gains about 3 on first down.
- Thiry is burned and down Bacher goes with no time to react (Gholston with the sack).
Third and 10+ again.
- The handoff goes to the wrong side and NU is stopped close to the LOS.
Let's see what NU does on the punt with their punting being otherwise unsuccessful thus far.

End of 1st quarter.
So far, the player of the game looks like OSU DE Gholston, who has the sack plus the fumble return for the TD.

- NU punt is pretty decent, although a good return is allowed.  Simmons completely missed the tackle which he should have made.
- Oredugba is laid out on the play and is being tended to as he was injured on the play (probably a concussion as the trainer had the smelling salts out).

OSU Drive:
ONCE AGAIN, OSU has the ball in NU territory thanks to a punt from deep inside their own territory and a 13 yard return by Smalls.
- Chris Wells 9 yard rush on first down, once again NU can't get to the ball carrier in time.
- Wells takes it down to the 20, and OSU is knocking on the door once again, as Wells just shoves down Battle.
- Play action pass to Robiskie who's open in the end zone and it's good for the TD despite McManis' best attempt.
OSU 35 - NU 0

Robiskie has 3 TDs on the day, and only a McManis diving INT saved a 4th.
OSU is doing exactly what they need to in order to win - throw the ball often (we haven't seen any pressure on the OSU QB yet) and blitz NU like crazy.  So far it's working perfectly.

NU Drive:
- McManis and Phillips collide on the kickoff return.  McManis goes down, appearing to favor his right leg.
McManis was completely laid out on a block but walked off the field and looked fine, at least for the time being.
- Phillips gets the ball to the 21, thus far NU's best starting position.
- Grant is in on the OL in place of Belding but was completely handled as the run by Peterman was stopped for a loss.
- 2nd down - the Conteh run is stopped for a loss.
- 3rd and 16.... 10+ yards to go again; shovel pass to Conteh for a few yards.
Once again NU is getting handled on both sides of the ball... NU only got close to midfield once.
- NU punt by Demos isn't very good and OSU will take over at the NU 43.

NU seems to be getting worse as the day goes on - the game plan isn't giving the 'Cats a chance and NU is being physically dominated on both sides of the ball.
The physical play of OSU is especially evident on special teams where OSU gets to the ball quickly every time and has almost none of their coverage guys blocked.

OSU Drive:
- Immediate 7 yard running pickup by Wells.
- Pass good along the sidelines for the 1st down.
- NU stops Wells for a gain of only 2.
- Incompletion to the other sideline makes it 3rd and long... NU needs to get a stop.
- Once again, limited pressure but fortunately NU gets a nice open field tackle from Oredugba who made it back into the game.
- OSU goes for it on 4th down and finally, a SACK from John Gill!  Thus far that is the best play of the game for NU.

NU Drive:
NU starts with its best field position of the day on its own 38.
- Bubble screen to Ward for a couple yards on 1st down.
- Bacher on the keeper seems to stumble into an awaiting tackler for a short gain, 3rd and 5.
- The pass to Thompson is in his arms but broken up.  Another punt for NU (none so far for OSU).
- Another directional punt puts OSU in its worst field position of the day on its own 23.

OSU Drive:
- A C. Wells run for a gain of 8 on first down.
- Wells lunges ahead for the first down.
Still more than 7:00 to go in the half.
- Wells 9 yard run.  NU is getting nothing up front as the runner is getting through the line untouched almost every play.
- Maurice Wells is wrapped up by Mims and company in the backfield for a loss of about 5, unfortunately NU hasn't been consistent on defense all day.
- First down conversion with a short pass to the TE, Malleo covering.
Fortunately, OSU is going into slow-down mode and is running the ball often.
- M. Wells stopped at the LOS by a host of NU tacklers.
- Screen pass to Wells goes for the first down.  Even with the slow-down gameplan, OSU is driving the ball down the field.
- M. Wells carry for about 4 yards on 1st down.
- Chris Wells come s back in and immediately runs in for the TD.
OSU 42 - NU 0

This game is so far looking more lopsided than even the most pessimistic NU fans'/optimistic OSU fans' predictions.

NU Drive:
- Roberson with the return just past the 20.
- The screen pass on first down is once again foiled - incomplete.
- Bubble screen to Thompson is high and dropped for an incompletion.
- The pressure is on, and coverage is good downfield leading to a 20 yard sack (once again its Gholston with the sack).  NU down ti its own 2.
- NU punt, OSU returns the ball to the NU 46.

The blowout continues - NU has only put OSU in its own end once in the game.

OSU Drive:
- M. Wells run to the outside for only a couple.  NU PENALTY- Battle hits Wells out of bounds and hands OSU 15 free yards.
OSU has already brought in some backups with Schoenhoft taking over as QB.
- Wells gains a couple of yards.
- Incompletion on 2nd down.  Brings up 3rd and 7.
- Pass complete close to the first down, Smith with the stop.  After the measurement, it will be 4th and inches at about the 19 yard line.
- 4th down - OSU goes for it but there is a flag down for illegal procedure on the offense as the center was moving forward before the snap.
- OSU FG attempt: the kick is good (40 yards).
OSU 45 - NU 0

If NU wasn't considered to be at the bottom of the conference after last week, unfortunately it will after this performance.

NU Drive:
- Roberson with a decent runback to the 30 yard line.  (This was NU's 7th kickoff return of the game).
- Conteh runs for a couple.
- Belding jumps way early and NU gets another penalty.  Once again NU is piling up the penalty yards and is behind the chains again.
- Conteh gains a few on the ground.

End of 2nd quarter: OSU 45 - NU 0.

OSU has the backups in already, and I could easily see ABC cutting away from the game after the half.  Log this one in the ugly games category, and for the third straight year OSU puts up 40+ points on NU.
NU has only 13 total yards (thanks partially to 4 sacks for -37 yards).  No running game, and the passing game is ineffective with OSU putting huge pressure on the short passes and getting sacks almost at will.

Start of 3rd quarter

NU Drive:
- 99 yard kickoff return by Simmons after bouncing off of an OSU tackle attempt, for the touchdown!
OSU 45 - NU 7

So far, the only positive on this game is the Simmons TD return - the first kick/punt return for a TD under Fitz.

OSU Drive:
- A quick pass and a C. Wells rush for the first down.  Wells comes out favoring his ankle.
- M. Wells gets a couple of rushes for the 1st down.
- Kadela with a nice stop for no gain.
- Kwateng gets the tackle for a loss.
- Another play action TD, this time to Small who was wide open.
OSU 52 - NU 7

NU Drive:
- 5 yard pickup to Jones.
- False start negates the initial gain - YET ANOTHER penalty on NU,
- Peterman a gain of 6, bringing up 3rd down.
- OSU brings the blitz and Bacher finds Roberson who picks up the first down.
- Conteh run for no gain.
- Inside pass to Peterman negated by a holding penalty.
- Screen pass to Thompson blown up for an incompletion.  Once again the pressure is on Bacher.
- ANOTHER sack on Bacher, 4th down.
- Punt puts OSU on its own 49.

OSU Drive:
Henton takes over at QB.
I'm not going to continue the play-by-play as OSU is continuing to drive down the field even with the backups/3rd stringers.   If you're still reading this you're nuts anyways.
- Fumble by M. Wells, recovered by McPherson, NU ball.  Unfortunately both of the turnovers picked up by NU have come deep in the 'Cats' territory.

NU Drive:
Kadela has had a great day so far with 12 tackles and 3 TFLs plus that forced fumble.
- Conteh trips over Thiry for a loss of 4.
- Long incompletion to Jones as the ball hits the turf.
- Yet another incompletion to Ward as he can't hang on.
- YET ANOTHER deep punt.
- Blocked punt (so much for the new punt formation working), recovered at the 2 yard line.

OSU Drive:
- M. Wells TD run.
OSU 58 - NU 7

NU Drive:
Peterman has had a couple of nice receptions including a reception that brought the ball inside the 40.
- Penalty on Rucks (personal foul) moves the ball back once again for NU.

End of 3rd quarter

- Bacher shorts the pass for an INT (Ross Lane intended receiver).

OSU Drive:
NU forces the first OSU punt of the game (not until the 4th quarter though).

NU Drive:
Nothing going again - no first down and another punt from inside the 10.
- Punt goes into OSU territory.

OSU Drive:
Davie with some nice stops on the drive, although the play is getting sloppy with penalties on both sides (an NU interception is negated by a defensive pass interference call).
Henton short-hops the 3rd down throw and on 4th down almost throws an INT in the end zone (a smart play by NU not to intercept - instead they get the ball back at the LOS).

NU Drive:
NU doing a nice job of moving the ball; Kafka came in during the drive, but unable to get any points on the board.

OSU Drive:
Runs out the clock.

End of game.
OSU 58 - NU 7

This game was ugly, to say the least.  NU looked like it did back in the dark ages - unable to move the football and making mistakes all over the place.  I would guess that 3/4 of the game was played in NU territory between the 'Cats' horrible field position and OSU's excellent field position.  OSU dominated the LOS on both sides of the ball and had very limited mistakes.  Look out for the postgame wrap-up to be posted later.

Around the league:
- Michigan looks like its bouncing back with a solid defensive effort in its 14-9 win over PSU.  Unfortunately, they're next on NU's schedule and with the 'Cats' performance over the past 2 games, things do not look good.
- MSU grabs the win over Notre Dame and 31-14 and suddenly looks solid at 4-0 going into Big Ten play, but the real competition is yet to come.
- OSU looks like the class of the league, although Purdue and Wisconsin have looked respectable and have their Big Ten openers later today.

e-mail: j-hodges@alumni.northwestern.edu

Previous jhodges commentary

jhodges' commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of HailToPurple.com.