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Haskins record-setting night powers Buckeyes to Big Ten title

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Dwayne Haskins set all sorts of records this season for the Ohio State Buckeyes and in the Big Ten. He did it again on Saturday night, powering the No. 6 Buckeyes to a 45-24 victory over No. 21 Northwestern. 

Haskins set a Big Ten championship game with 499 yards passing and five touchdown passes.

Ohio State’s victory is their third in the Big Ten title game, setting a record for the most wins for any team in the conference. 

Three different Buckeyes receivers caught touchdowns, with Johnnie Dixon getting seven receptions for 129 yards and one touchdown to lead the way. Fellow senior Terry McLaurin had just three receptions, but two were for scores and he finished with 78 yards of his own. 

Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson just couldn’t keep pace with Haskins on the night, despite throwing for a respectable 267 yards of his own. It only resulted in one touchdown.  

Ohio State got the ball first and marched right down the field on Northwestern. The Buckeyes took just seven plays to go up 7-0 as star quarterback Dwayne Haskins made a spectacular final play of the drive. 

After looking dead to rights for a sack, he escaped and scrambled away from further pressure to find wide receiver Terry McLaurin in the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown strike. 

Northwestern had a big answer to that play only a few minutes later, as running back John Moten IV scampered 77 yards off the left side of the line to even the score at 7-7 with 6:27 to play in the 1st quarter. 

Just as Ohio State’s big moment wasn’t a harbinger of things to come, neither was Northwestern’s. 

Instead, the game settled down for a bit and it stayed close for the majority of the first half. 

Ohio State answered the Wildcats touchdown with an 8-play, 65-yard drive to go back on top 14-7 with just over three minutes to go in the first quarter. 

What looked like a shootout never materialized in large part because the Buckeyes defense stood strong. Northwestern could pick up only 160 yards of total offense in the first half and turned the ball over twice. 

Ohio State only managed three points off those turnovers, but also kept the Wildcats offense off balance almost all half. 

The Buckeyes also capitalized on its defensive stops, putting a huge 42-yard touchdown pass from Haskins to McLaurin — his second of the half — to go up 24-7 with just 1:21 to play in the first half. 

Haskins finished the half by going 18-22 passing for 249 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Conversely, Thorson was just 8-18 for 58 yards and an interception for the Wildcats. 

The play of the two quarterbacks was the biggest difference in the scoreline in the half. 

That all changed quickly out of the half, as Northwestern came out fired up. It led to a pair of quick touchdowns to start the second half. Thorson was red hot and the Wildcats made it 24-21 on an 18-yard touchdown run by the senior quarterback and a 2-yard pass to Cameron Green with 8:03 to go in the third quarter. 

By that point, the Wildcats had equaled their offensive production for the entire first half and Thorson managed to throw for more yardage than he did in the first half as well. 

 But, the Buckeyes weren’t going to let things slip away easily. Haskins continued his master class with his third touchdown pass in two games to Chris Olave to make it 31-21. 

After a field goal cut the lead back to a single score, Haskins continued to rip up the Wildcats defense. He ripped off his fourth touchdown of the game, connecting with Johnnie Dixon on a 9-yard strike with just 9:11 to play. 

Haskins capped off his record-setting night and put the game completely out of reach with 17-yard beauty of a pass to running back J.K. Dobbins to make it 45-24 with 4:09 to play. 

With the win, Ohio State moves to 12-1 on the season and will have to wait to see what the College Football Playoff committee does tomorrow night. 

Either the Buckeyes will be in the playoff thanks to Georgia’s loss in the SEC title game or they will be Rose Bowl bound and take on Pac-12 champion Washington. 

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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