Ohio State destroys Northwestern, 58-7

Josh Weir

Kirk Barton and his Ohio State teammates were reminded this week of Northwestern’s feelings during this summer’s Big Ten Media Day.

The Wildcat contingent talked about being excited to come to Ohio Stadium and face the Buckeyes.

“We kind of took that as a slap in the face,” said Barton, a senior right tackle and co-captain. “The Horseshoe should be like Alcatraz. Nobody wants to go there.”

After Saturday afternoon, consider that mission accomplished.

The Buckeyes made quick work of overmatched Northwestern, destroying the Wild­cats, 58-7, in their 500th game at Ohio Stadium. The No. 8 team in the country did what it’s supposed to do to a squad that just lost to Duke.

Remember those sluggish starts in the Buckeyes’ first three games? Ohio State (4-0, 1-0) must have had its coffee Saturday.

The Buckeyes led, 28-0, before the game was 10 minutes old. Todd Boeckman’s first two passes went for touchdowns to Brian Robiskie, and the Buckeyes’ defense and special teams took turns placing molar-jarring hits on the Wildcats.

In other words, the sharks were out in the Olentangy River.

“Just winning isn’t enough anymore,” sophomore wide receiver Brian Hartline said. "People talk about style points a lot. Every once in a while, you throw in a game where you earn some style points. I think this was one of those games.”

The win was Ohio State’s 22nd consecutive in the regular season, setting a school record. The 58 points were the most in Head Coach Jim Tressel’s seven years at Ohio State and the most against a Big Ten opponent since a 59-0 win over Wisconsin in 1979.

The Buckeyes carried over the momentum from Washington last week. Left guard Steve Rehring jumped on Ray Small’s fumble on the second play of the game.

On the next play, Boeckman saw Robiskie covered one-on-one and went right to him, lofting a 42-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline.

A James Laurinitis sack and a shanked punt then set up Ohio State on Northwestern’s 36.

On third-and-2, Robiskie had single coverage again, and Boeckman didn’t hesitate. A perfect pass dropped into Robiskie’s hands for a 28-yard touchdown.

The rout was on.

“Ohio State came out and looked like a championship team,” Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

Seven of Ohio State’s nine first-half possessions started in Northwestern territory. Northwestern’s offense did not advance into Ohio State territory until there was less than a minute left in the third quarter. The Wildcats finished with 82 yards overall and no rushing yards.

“You can’t simulate speed on film or in practice, especially to play out to game day,” Northwestern junior receiver Eric Peterman said. “They just confused our offense, and their speed really helped that.”

Anderson Russell blindsided Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bach­er, popping the ball loose. Vernon Gholston picked it up at the 25 and ran it in for a touchdown. Ohio State led, 28-0 with 5:26 left in the first quarter.

Gholston’s was the first fum­ble return for a score by a Buckeye since McKinley grad­uate Mike Doss in 2001 against Northwestern. Gholston added two sacks to go with his first career touchdown.

Northwestern’s only points came on Stephen Simmons’ 99-yard kickoff return to open the second half.

Beanie Wells ran for 100 yards on 12 carries. He left the game with an ankle injury early in the third quarter but said afterward he was fine.

Boeckman completed 11 of 14 passes for 141 yards, four touchdowns and one pick. He had a 19-yard touchdown pass to Robiskie in the second quarter and found Small for a 48-yarder in the third. All three of Robiskie’s catches went for touchdowns.

Reach Repository sports writer Josh Weir at (330) 580-8426 or e-mail josh.weir@cantonrep.com.