Northwestern was present at the creation of the Big Ten. In 1896 it joined Illinois, Minnesota, the University of Chicago, Purdue, Wisconsin and Michigan to establish the Western Conference, which later became the Big Ten.
Ohio State didn’t join the Big Ten until 1912. But you might say OSU has made up for lost time since getting that late start.
The Buckeyes have won or shared 40 Big Ten football championships since becoming part of that tradition-rich conference.
Northwestern has raised the Big Ten football championship trophy eight times in school history. The Wildcats have three somewhat recent Big Ten championships in 1995, 1996 and 2000 but their other five all happened between 1903 and 1936.
Ohio State has had eight football coaches who have won two or more Big Ten championships. Northwestern has two – Gary Barnett, who coached the 1995 and 1996 teams, and Dick Hanley whose 1930 and 1931 teams were Big Ten champions.
Ohio State has won nine games in a row against Northwestern. Its last loss against the Wildcats was in 2004.
If you need a historical marker of just how long ago that was, a young freshman wide receiver named Ted Ginn Jr. got his first start in an Ohio State uniform in that game.
Ohio State’s loss to Northwestern in 2004 was its first against the Wildcats since 1971, which means OSU has won 33 of the last 34 games it has played against Northwestern, going into Saturday’s game between the Buckeyes and Wildcats in Evanston.
Northwestern was Ohio State’s opponent in the Big Ten championship game in 2018 and 2020 but it has hit hard times since then. It was 3-9 last season and is 1-7 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten this season and hasn’t won since beating Nebraska in its opener.
No. 2 Ohio State (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) should have no problem getting its ninth win of the season. Other than a weather forecast that calls for rain and wind gusts up to 40 miles an hour, it’s hard to come up with too many obstacles facing the Buckeyes, who are favored by 39 points.
Northwestern is not waving a white flag of surrender in this game or in the long-term future of its football program, though.
It opened a $260 million indoor practice facility in 2018 on the shore of Lake Michigan that is among the most impressive indoor facilities in college football. And in September it announced plans to build a new $800 million football stadium on the site of its current home, Ryan Field. The new stadium would have a capacity of around 35,000, which is 12,000 fewer seats than Ryan Field.
Northwestern hopes the 2023 season will be the last for Ryan Field and that the new stadium would open in 2026.
So this year’s win could be Ohio State’s last one in Ryan Field.
The prediction: Ohio State 42, Northwestern 0.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.