Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins was not going to let his team lose.
Every time Northwestern dared to make things interesting in Saturday night’s Big Ten title game, Haskins would put the Buckeyes offense on his back with big throw after big throw.
When the dust settled, Haskins emerged with a Big Ten title game record 499 yards and five touchdowns in a 45-24 victory.
From a team perspective, it wasn’t a performance that is going to vault the No. 8 Buckeyes into the College Football Playoff field. But it is certainly one that should cement Haskins’ place as a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Ohio State built a big lead, but Northwestern kept fighting
With Haskins orchestrating it all, Ohio State built to a 24-7 lead at halftime, thanks, in part, to two touchdown passes from Haskins to Terry McLaurin.
The second, with 1:21 left in the half, was a thing of beauty on third-and-long:
But Northwestern came out strong in the third quarter. The Wildcats’ offense shook off two first-half turnovers by scoring on its first two second-half drives, first on an 18-yard run by quarterback Clayton Thorson and then a Thorson play-action pass to tight end Cameron Green to cap off an 85-yard drive.
In a span of seven minutes, Northwestern had chopped the deficit from 24-7 to 24-21.
From there, Haskins took control
First, he found Michigan game hero Chris Olave for a 29-yard score, building the lead to 31-21 by the end of the third quarter. And after a Northwestern field goal, Haskins delivered a 63-yard bomb to Johnnie Dixon, and followed it up with a nine-yard scoring connection with Dixon two plays later.
And for good measure, following a Northwestern turnover on downs, Haskins tossed his fifth score — an 18-yarder to running back J.K. Dobbins — to put the final nail in the coffin of a second straight Big Ten title.
And after that last touchdown, Haskins made this statement:
He may end up as a distant third behind Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, but Haskins belongs at that ceremony in New York City next Saturday after a season full of Big Ten records.
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