No. 4 Ohio State beat No. 14 Northwestern 22-10 in the 2020 Big Ten Championship Game, clinching its fourth consecutive conference title and setting itself up for a potential College Football Playoff berth. It was not a pretty game for the Buckeyes, and it will leave things up to interpretation, but they nevertheless got the job done when it counted.
Ohio State didn’t score its first touchdown until late in the third quarter when it took a 13-10 lead. Before that, it had spent most of the afternoon getting in its own way. The Buckeyes had an impressive opening drive but stalled in the red zone. Justin Fields scored what looked to be a touchdown, but it was brought back by a holding call. That penalty killed the drive and forced Ohio State to settle for a field goal. It was the first time all season the Buckeyes didn’t score a touchdown on their opening drive.
Northwestern responded with a touchdown drive of its own to take a 7-3 lead, and it held onto that advantage until late in the third quarter. The time between was spent with both teams failing to take advantage of opportunities or turning the ball over.
The tide turned for good in the third quarter when Ohio State just leaned on star running back Trey Sermon and its ground game. Sermon took the game over, finishing with a Buckeyes single-game record of 331 yards rushing along with two touchdowns, breaking Eddie George’s previous high (314 yards, 1995). Compare that to Northwestern, which only posted 329 yards of offense as a team. Sermon also broke the Big Ten title game’s rushing record.