Seeking to remain unbeaten and hoist its forth Big Ten trophy in as many seasons, Ohio State overcame missing several key players and a halftime to deficit and rode a record setting performance from running back Trey Sermon for a hard-fought 22-10 victory against a game Northwestern team Saturday in Indianapolis.
Sermon rolled up 331 yards on 29 carries, topping the Ohio State all-time single-game record set by Eddie George in 1995 (314 vs. Illinois). Sermon added a pair of touchdowns on the day. Sermon’s 331 yards is the most all-time in any conference championship game.
Senior linebacker Justin Hilliard had several key plays in the game as he intercepted a pass in the NW endzone and recovered a fumble for the Buckeye defense.
Ohio State, now 6-0, claimed its 39th overall Big Ten championship and will await its postseason fate announced tomorrow.
The Buckeyes utilized an effective mix of pass and run to eat up nearly half the first quarter to convert a 41-yard Blake Haubeil field goal on its opening drive.
On the drive that covered 51 yards in 15 plays and 8:26, Fields went 5-7 for 41 yards and Sermon gained 24 on the ground. Fleming had three grabs for 30 yards.
Northwestern answered quickly in its first possession taking a 7-3 lead. The Wildcats mainly kept it on the ground for the 7-play, 75-yard drive. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey’s 34-yard scamper contributed to the 63 yards rushing on the drive that eventually was capped by a Cam Porter nine-yard TD run. The drive took just 2:32 off the clock.
Northwestern extended its lead to 10-3 with a 47-yard field goal by Charlie Kuhbander midway through the period. The drive covered 65 yards on 14 plays and clipped 6:00 off the clock. Ramsey kept the drive going with several big completions of 22 and 12 yards and pitched in on the ground with a nine-yard scramble.
Back-to-back 20-plus yard completions to Garrett Wilson and Fleming got the Buckeyes going on the ensuing possession that ultimately ended in Haubeil’s second field goal of the day, a 43-yarder. The drive covered 49 yards in seven plays in 3:23.
Sermon (21) and Fields (24) kick-started the final possession of the half with chunk runs and the Buckeyes advanced inside the NW 10 but Fields threw an interception in the corner of the endzone as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
The Buckeyes returned the favor thwarting an impressive Wildcat opening drive of the second half with a potential tide-turning play by senior Justin Hilliard. The Wildcats drove inside the Buckeye 15 before a Ramsey pass to the front corner of the endzone was picked off by Hilliard.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) December 19, 2020
After a Fields interception and a forced NW punt, Sermon opened the Buckeyes next drive with a 65-yard dash up the middle from the Buckeye 7 to the NW 28. The drive ended in a missed 41-yard Haubeil FG attempt.
Despite being penalized 15-yards on back-to-back personal foul calls, the Buckeyes were able to keep the game at 10-6 when Kuhbander pushed a 46-yard try wide ride.
On the ensuing possession, the Buckeye kept it on the ground for all seven plays of the drive, including another big run from Sermon covering 33 yards. He finished the 71-yard drive off with a nine yard TD run, going over to 200-yard mark on the day and giving the Buckeyes the lead 13-10.
🔊 Sermon sprints for first Buckeye touchdown of the game
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) December 19, 2020
Northwestern opened the final frame with the ball but Ramsey coughed up a fumble that Hilliard recovered at the NW 40. Sermon then ripped off another big gain, going for 28 yards before the drive stalled at the NW 6.
Haulbeil connected for his third 3-pointed of the game from 26 yards out. The five-play drive took 2:19 and covered 31 yards.Ohio State’s next possession helped created some space on the scoreboard as Sermon once again continued to pile up yards and his second TD of the day.
On the drive he toted seven times for 63 yards including the three-yard score. The drive covered 80 yards on nine plays in just more than 4:00.
On the final drive of the game, Sermon etched his name in the Buckeye record books topping the 330-yard mark.
@treyera Congratulations on breaking the single-game rushing record!! Eat, young man, Eat!!!
— Eddie George (@EddieGeorge2727) December 19, 2020
TREY SERMON CAME TO PLAY 😤
He set an Ohio State single-game record AND Big Ten Championship record with 331 rushing yards ‼️ pic.twitter.com/EeHYg9sVrL
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 19, 2020