EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Miyan Williams ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 2 Ohio State got all it could handle from Northwestern in a 21-7 victory on a rainy and windy Saturday.
The Buckeyes (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten, No. 2 CFP) came in tied with Tennessee in the AP poll and trailing only the Volunteers in the season’s first College Football Playoff rankings. But what figured to be an easy win turned into a struggle.
Ohio State didn’t score until the closing minutes of the first half, when Emeka Egbuka ran it in from the 15, with the rain and whipping wind not to mention Northwestern’s physical play creating havoc.
Williams gave Ohio State the lead with a 27-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He made it 21-7 when he scored from the 2 with about 4 1/2 minutes remaining in the game after C.J. Stroud broke a 44-yard run, and the Buckeyes came away with a tougher-than-expected win.
Stroud, the Big Ten leader in yards passing, set a career low with 76. He completed just 10 of 26 passes in his only game this year without a touchdown throw. Stroud, who came in with minus-4 yards rushing, ran for 79, helping the Buckeyes pick up their 10th straight win against Northwestern and 34th in the past 35 meetings.
The Wildcats (1-8, 1-5) dropped their eighth straight, matching their worst skid since the 1998 team lost eight in a row. They are 5-17 since falling to Ohio State in the 2020 conference championship game.
Evan Hull ran for 122 yards and a touchdown.
Brendan Sullivan threw for 79, completing 10 of 14 passes, and the Wildcats remained winless since beating Nebraska in Ireland to start the season.
Ohio State came came in averaging 48.9 points — second only to Tennessee — and hadn’t scored fewer than 44 in a Big Ten game. But the ugly conditions and Northwestern’s physical play in the trenches made for a tough time.
Northwestern, which has not beaten a top-five team since knocking off No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 5 Iowa in the first two games of the 1959 season, grabbed a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter when Hull took a direct snap and scored from the 16.
Egbuka turned up the right side and scored from the 15 to tie it at 7 with 2:26 left in the half. Stroud kept that drive going with a 16-yard keeper on fourth down at the Northwestern 37.
Ohio State took a 14-7 lead with 8:44 left in the third on a 27-yard touchdown by Williams, who bounced off a pack, turned to the right and beat three or four defenders.
Though the Buckeyes remained unbeaten, they could drop a spot or two.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes had a tough time after winning at Penn State last week. And the way the Buckeyes got pushed around in the early going was eye-opening.
Northwestern: Though they hung in against one of the Big Ten’s powerhouses, the Wildcats continue their slide.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes have a home game against Indiana next week and visit Maryland before a showdown with No. 4 Michigan in Columbus on Nov. 26.
Northwestern: The Wildcats will try to stop their skid when they visit Minnesota.