Nothing fuels a potential upset like turnovers, an area in which Northwestern can boast of a slight advantage in the early going. The Wildcats enter their contest with Ohio State plus-1 in turnover margin while the Buckeyes are minus-1.
The last Buckeye to intercept two passes in one game – before James Laurinaitis did so last Saturday against Washington – wore No. 2 himself, All-America safety Mike Doss, who snagged two Jon Navarre passes in Ohio State's 2001 upset of Michigan.
Against Washington, Ohio State ended up plus-4 in turnover margin, a feat the Buckeyes had accomplished four previous times under Tressel: last season against Iowa, in 2004 against N.C. State and in 2001 against both San Diego State and Michigan (the same game Doss had his two picks). Of those contests, all of which were wins, only the matchup with SDSU occurred at home.
The Wildcats open conference play ranked ninth in the Big Ten in pass efficiency defense and rushing defense.
Northwestern is 10th in the Big Ten in both passing yards allowed and total defense. Ohio State ranks No. 1 in both categories.
Ohio State has won a school-record-tying 21 straight regular season games, equaling the mark set from 1967-69.
On the last trip to Ohio Stadium, the Wildcats scored a touchdown on the opening possession. Ohio State followed with 48 unanswered points.
Northwestern is one of four teams Ohio State has beaten at least 50 times on the gridiron. The Buckeyes are 57-14-1 against the Wildcats since the series began in 1913. OSU has 65 wins over Indiana, 60 over Illinois and 50 over Wisconsin.
The last time Ohio State broke the 300-yard mark in rushing was the last time Northwestern visited Ohio Stadium in 2005. The Buckeyes totaled 317 yards, including 132 from Antonio Pittman and 75 from Troy Smith.
The game Saturday will serve as Ohio State's 500th regular season game at Ohio Stadium, where they hold a winning percentage of 77.2 (375-104-20).
Ohio State last lost at home to Northwestern in 1971, a 14-10 setback that coincided with Jim Tressel's freshman year at Baldwin-Wallace. All time Ohio State is 31-8-0 against the Wildcats in Columbus.
The largest crowd to attend a Northwestern game this year totaled 23,716. That came last week when the Wildcats lost at home to Duke. This Saturday they can figure on at least and extra 80,000 sets of eyeballs pointed their way at Ohio Stadium.