COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Curtis Samuel ran for a 3-yard touchdown with 9:43 left to give Ohio State a lead and J.T. Barrett converted two key third downs on a game-sealing drive to give the sixth-ranked Buckeyes a 24-20 victory against Northwestern on Saturday.
After being upset by Penn State last week, the Buckeyes’ offense struggled against another multi-touchdown underdog. The Buckeyes (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) punted on five straight drives in one stretch, but responded to Northwestern tying it at 17 with a touchdown drive, capped by Samuel.
Northwestern (4-4, 3-2 Big Ten) then got to the Ohio State 3, but settled for a 33-yard Jack Mitchell field goal to close to 24-20 with 3:31 left. The Buckeyes mounted a final clock-eating drive. Barrett hit Noah Brown for 16 yards on third-and-8 and then took off on a 35-yard run to convert a third-and-10 to put the Buckeyes in the clear.
Barrett was 21 for 32 for 223 yards, but didn’t complete a pass over 19 yards until the fourth quarter. Mike Weber rushed 14 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
Clayton Thorson was 25 for 42 for 256 yards with a touchdown and a first-quarter interception. Austin Carr, the Big Ten’s leading receiver, caught eight passes for 158 yards.
Northwestern: The Wildcats continue to improve and showed their Big Ten wins weren’t a fluke. They nearly pulled off another one in Ohio Stadium. Still, the Wildcats have not won in Columbus since 1971.
Ohio State: Smarting from last week’s upset, the Buckeyes at least escaped with a win over a big underdog. But problems with their passing game persist, and they need to improve to get through the rest of the schedule unscathed.
Ohio State’s effort might cost it a spot or two in the AP Top 25.
Northwestern: The Wildcats return home to play No. 11 Wisconsin.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes host No. 7 Nebraska.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.