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Buckeyes pull away from Northwestern to win Big Ten championship game

By TIM BEILIK • Updated Dec 2, 2018 at 1:23 AM

COLUMBUS — Ohio State entered Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game against Northwestern needing a big win and help to get into the College Football Playoff.

Not only did the help not come, but the Buckeyes had their hands full with the Wildcats before pulling away late for a 45-24 win, giving OSU back-to-back Big Ten championships.

As for where it ends its season, Ohio State will learn its bowl destination on Sunday. But most likely, they will play in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for the first time since the 2009 season.

The game summed up Ohio State’s season in a lot of ways: good at times, rough at others.

In his first game since being named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Dwayne Haskins threw for 499 yards, which broke the school record he set against Purdue, and five touchdowns. He had two in the first half to Terry McLaurin, including one on a long scramble to his right before finding McLaurin open in the corner of the end zone from 16 yards out.

Chris Olave, Johnnie Dixon and J.K. Dobbins also had TD catches in the second, helping the Buckeyes regain distance after Northwestern cut a 17-point halftime margin down to three.

Haskins broke Big Ten Championship Game records for completions in a game (34), yards and TD passes, and earned MVP honors.

Conversely, after OSU had a 24-7 halftime lead, Northwestern opened the second half with touchdowns on its first two drives to cut the lead to three. Clayton Thorson had an 18-yard run and a two-yard TD toss to Cameron Green, making it a 24-21 game. The second TD was set up after a Damon Arnette fumble recovery at the 3-yard line was overturned upon review.

Arnette intercepted Thorson on the next Wildcats possession, but the Buckeyes gave the ball back a few plays later on a Mike Weber fumble.

Ohio State also gave up a run of at least 70 yards for the third time in three games. That came in the first quarter on a 77-yard TD score by Northwestern’s John Moten IV.

The Buckeyes have won the Big Ten outright in back-to-back years for the first time since 2006-07.

Chalk across the country

For Ohio State to have its best chance to get into the College Football Playoff, it needed some chaos to happen around the country.

That didn’t happen. Oklahoma won the Big 12 title, 39-27, vs. Texas. Alabama rallied to take down Georgia, 35-28, to win the SEC. And Clemson routed Pittsburgh, 42-10, in the ACC Championship Game.

Young’s big night

Chase Young was the fifth defensive end last season when Ohio State won the Big Ten Championship Game.

Saturday, the four in front of him were all gone. In Young’s return to Indianapolis, he was a problem for Northwestern.

Young sacked Thorson three times, one of which led to a forced fumble in the second quarter that Jordan Fuller recovered. He also set up Arnette’s interception by hitting Thorson’s arm, forcing a poor pass.

What’s next

Ohio State will learn its postseason destination on Sunday. If it makes the playoff, it will play on Dec. 29 in either the Orange Bowl in Miami or the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

If Ohio State doesn’t make the College Football Playoff, it will head to the Rose Bowl against Pac-12 champion Washington (9-3) at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Day.

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