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Ohio State at Northwestern: What bettors need to know

Ohio State Buckeyes at Northwestern Wildcats (+7, 61)

No. 3 Ohio State attempts to remain undefeated under second-year coach Urban Meyer and stretch the nation’s longest winning streak to 18 games when it visits No. 15 Northwestern on Saturday night. The Buckeyes have won 28 of the past 29 meetings with the Wildcats, but a rising Northwestern program is a bona fide threat to upset Ohio State. The Wildcats are attempting to start 5-0 for the second straight season and fourth time in six years.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald is well aware of what’s at stake against the powerful Buckeyes. “When you play a team that’s ranked in the Top 5 that’s playing as well as they are, it’s an incredibly difficult challenge for us,” Fitzgerald said. Ohio State is coming off a 31-24 victory over Wisconsin that featured the return of star quarterback Braxton Miller from a knee injury. The Buckeyes suffered a huge blow against the Badgers by losing standout safety Christian Bryant to a season-ending broken ankle.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC.

LINE: Ohio State opened -5.5 and moved to -7. Total opened 59 and moved to 61.

WEATHER: Temperatures in high 60s with 74 percent chance of thunder showers, winds SSW at 12 mph.
  
ABOUT OHIO STATE (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten Leaders, 3-1-1 ATS): Miller was solid in his return from a Sept. 7 injury by passing for 198 yards and four touchdowns while adding 83 rushing yards against Wisconsin. The offense is averaging 48.2 points per game despite the period without Miller and senior Corey “Philly” Brown (24 receptions, 254 yards) and junior Devin Smith (20 for 331) each have five touchdown receptions, while senior Jordan Hall has rushed for 427 yards and eight scores. Junior outside linebacker Ryan Shazier has a team-leading 37 tackles – including a Big Ten-leading seven tackles for loss – and junior cornerback Bradley Roby has two of the Buckeyes’ six interceptions.

ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten Legends, 2-2 ATS): The Wildcats expect senior Venric Mark (1,366 yards in 2012) to return from a three-game absence due to a leg injury to team with junior Treyvon Green, who has averaged seven yards per carry while rushing for 404 yards and five touchdowns. The two-quarterback system of senior Kain Colter (237 rushing yards, 77.1 percent completion percentage) and junior Trevor Siemian (67.1 completion percentage for 671 yards and four touchdowns) is clicking as the Wildcats are averaging 41.3 per game. Northwestern has intercepted 10 passes – four returned for touchdowns – with junior safety Ibraheim Campbell having a team-leading three picks and junior outside linebacker Collin Ellis and sophomore defensive end Dean Lowry each having two.

TRENDS:

* Buckeyes are 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Favorite is 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Home team is 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 meetings.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Ohio State leads the series 59-14-1 and has won the last four meetings. Northwestern’s last victory over the Buckeyes was in 2004.

2. Northwestern has 19 interceptions over its last seven games.

3. The Buckeyes have been dominant in the first quarter, outscoring opponents 116-21.

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