Hope left the building before Ohio State’s 52-3 trouncing of Northwestern even started

It was over when the cars and trucks with Ohio plates started spilling down north Evanston side streets and waving $60 or more out of their windows to park on residents’ driveways and lawns.

SHARE Hope left the building before Ohio State’s 52-3 trouncing of Northwestern even started
Ohio State v Northwestern

Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins breaks into the clear for a long run.

Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

It was over when the cars and trucks with Ohio plates started spilling down north Evanston side streets and waving $60 or more out of their windows to park on residents’ driveways and lawns.

It was a done deal when Buckeyes superfan Big Nut looked around at all the scarlet and gray in a parking lot adjacent to Ryan Field, drew in a deep, satisfied breath and said to no one in particular, “Feels like home.”

What’s the use when the game is sold out on a Friday night, but the atmosphere cries “surrender” before the opening kickoff?

This is not meant to tear down Northwestern, which lost 52-3 to No. 4 Ohio State in one of those college football contests everyone expects to go a certain way when one team comes in at 1-4 and the other is an unbeaten superpower.

It’s just hard as heck to deal with the Buckeyes — in their backyard or yours.

Hard to deal with their offensive skill, which comes in waves. Witness J.K. Dobbins’ 68-yard run, Master Teague III’s 73-yard run and Marcus Crowley’s 53-yard run.

Hard to deal with their quarterback, Justin Fields, a Heisman Trophy contender who plays like he’s been there many times before. Someone else will win the Heisman this season, but bet against Fields in 2020 if you dare.

Also, ever so hard to deal with a defense that came in ranked No. 2 in the land in yards allowed and a pass rusher, Chase Young, who might as well be the next Bosa brother. Young sacked NU’s Aidan Smith before the quarterback even attempted a pass.

Just think of all a struggling Wildcats team was confronted with as they prepared for a mismatch that would leave them at the midpoint of a lost season. They had to swallow hard and face these two amazing numbers: the Buckeyes’ scoring differential of 40.5 points per game coming in, and their offensive differential of 300.5 yards per game.

It will surprise no one to learn that each of those staggering statistics led the nation.

It was 31-3 by halftime. It only got worse after that.

It’s just hard as heck to deal with the Buckeyes.

At least next week, they’ll be somebody else’s problem.

On to Saturday’s Week 8 action:

No. 2 LSU (-18½) at Mississippi State (2:30 p.m., Ch. 2): There isn’t enough cowbell in all of creation to stop the Tigers (6-0) from rolling up points. If the Bulldogs (3-3) are still in hangdog mode after an embarrassing loss at Tennessee, this one gets away early. LSU by 28.

No. 12 Oregon (-3) at No. 25 Washington (2:30 p.m., Ch. 7): The Pac-12 has done nothing but cannibalize itself this season. Thus, the Ducks (5-1) — the league’s last team standing (barely) in the playoff race — must go down to the disappointing Huskies (5-2). That old “East Coast bias” isn’t even necessary anymore. UDub, 27-20.

No. 18 Baylor (+3½) at Oklahoma State (3 p.m., Fox-32): Nobody does Homecoming bigger than they do it in Stillwater, where the Cowboys (4-2) are coming off a bye week and ready to light up the scoreboard. If the Bears (6-0) are good enough to stay unbeaten, hey, we’ll tip our 10-gallon hats to them. OSU by 10. 

No. 17 Arizona State (+14) at No. 13 Utah (5 p.m., Pac-12 Network): The Sun Devils and the Utes — both 5-1 overall and 2-1 in Pac-12 play — enter the weekend in a four-way tie with USC and Arizona in the South division. It’s simply the toughest division to forecast in college football. Utes, 23-16. 

No. 16 Michigan (+9) at No. 7 Penn State (6:30 p.m., Ch. 7): The Wolverines (5-1) and games like this one against the Nittany Lions (6-0) just don’t mix well. Can Michigan’s defense, coming on like gangbusters of late, stuff PSU’s passing game in a sack with pressure on QB Sean Clifford? Maybe, but the Nits’ “D” shines brighter under the lights — PSU, 24-13.

My favorite favorite: No. 9 Florida (-5) at South Carolina (11 a.m., ESPN): Do the Gamecocks really have the juice to do to the Gators what they did to Georgia last weekend? It would be the power move of coach Will Muschamp’s career to pull off such a one-two gut punch, and the timing isn’t bad because the Gators are banged up — but, nah. Get over yourselves, Cocky.

My favorite underdog: Vanderbilt (+21½) vs. No. 21 Missouri (3 p.m., SEC Network): Still waiting for the Tigers to demonstrate that they’re at least half as good on the road as they are at home. Last time out in the wild blue yonder, they managed to lose to Wyoming.

Last week: 8-1 straight-up, 4-5 vs. the spread.

Season to date: 36-15 straight-up, 29-21-1 vs. the spread.



The facts: 11 a.m., BTN, 890-AM.

The records: Wisconsin 6-0, 3-0 Big Ten; Illinois 2-4, 0-3 Big Ten.

The storyline:Another week, another opponent on a lengthy busting-up-the-Illini streak. The Badgers have won nine straight — each time by double digits — in the series, and it isn’t the least bit complicated how they’ll try to make it a perfect 10. They’ll feed the beast that is Jonathan Taylor, the best running back in the land, and watch the Illini’s 106th-ranked rushing defense try to do something — anything — about it. By the way, lots of luck to the Illini if they want to run it at all; the Badgers’ rushing defense is ranked No. 1.

The line: Badgers by 31.

Greenberg’s pick: Wisconsin, 38-13.


The facts: 1:30 p.m., ESPN+, 560-AM.

The records: NIU 2-4, 1-1 MAC; Miami 2-4, 1-1 MAC.

The story line:Think the Huskies’ non-conference visits to Utah, Nebraska and Vanderbilt were tough? The RedHawks had to play at Iowa, Cincinnati and Ohio State. The result is we’re still trying to get a feel for how each of these teams shapes up relative to the rest of the conference. Statistically, the Huskies have been the better team offensively. Coming off a thrilling 39-36 upset victory at Ohio, they get the nod in this cross-division matchup.

The line: Huskies by 2½.

Greenberg’s pick: NIU, 31-17.

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