Ohio State had plenty of motivation coming into the game. Despite winning the previous two meetings against the Wildcats by a combined 102-17, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald had gotten the attention of Jim Tressel's Buckeyes during the preseason Big Ten media days in Chicago.
"At the Big Ten conference, Pat Fitzgerald kind of called us out," senior captain Kirk Barton, one of OSU's representatives at the conference, said. "He said he couldn't wait to get to the Horseshoe. We kind of took that as a slap to the face.
"The Horseshoe should be like Alcatraz. Nobody wants to go there. You shouldn't in your right mind want to come to the Horseshoe. We felt like we'd done a poor job of letting people know they don't want to come here. If someone wants to come here, obviously we're not doing enough to beat them."
The Buckeyes did plenty to beat Northwestern, scoring on the third play from scrimmage and never letting up. Northwestern won the toss and deferred, giving Ohio State the first offensive opportunity. It only took 70 seconds for the Buckeyes to score, and Ohio State built a commanding 28-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
"We used that (sentiment) and posted it up on the walls," redshirt freshman cornerback Chimdi Chekwa said of Fitzgerald's comments. "We talked about it and it got us riled up to go play them. We come closer together and we get rah-rah. We try to use that to fire us up to get us ready to play."
Ohio State's offense had a field day against the Wildcats, piling up 396 yards. Junior quarterback Todd Boeckman completed 11 of 14 passes for 179 yards and four touchdowns. Brian Robiskie caught only three of those passes for 89 yards, but all of them went for scores. Two of those came in the first quarter on receptions of 42 and 28 yards.
Boeckman became only the eight Buckeye signalcaller to throw for four touchdowns in a single game. The others are Troy Smith, who did so four times in 2007; Craig Krenzel (2003) and Vic Janowicz (1950), who each did it twice; and Bobby Hoying (1995), Mike Tomczak (1983), Art Schlichter (1980) and Tony Curcillo (1951).
The school record for most touchdown passes in a game is five and was set by John Borton in 1952. It was equaled by Hoying in 1994 and again the following season.
Meanwhile, Robiskie became the first Ohio State receiver to catch three touchdown passes in a game since Terry Glenn caught four in that 1995 game against Pittsburgh.
The 58 points was the largest for an Ohio State team under head coach Jim Tressel, four more than in the 54-10 victory for OSU over Northwestern in 2007. It was also the second most for the Buckeyes since a 72-0 rout of Pittsburgh in 1995.
The OSU defense also had a solid afternoon, holding Northwestern to only 120 yards of total offense. That included a total of zero net yards rushing, which was aided by the absense of Northwestern tailback Tyrell Sutton. The Ohio native missed his second consecutive game with a leg injury. Omar Conteh led the Wildcat rushing attack with 28 yards on 15 carries.
"Well, it's not like they are reinventing the wheel," Fitzgerald said of OSU's defense, "but for some reason we were just not ready for it. Ohio State came out and looked like a championship team. They have won two Big Ten championships (in a row), so they know how to win Big Ten games."
James Laurinaitis led the Buckeyes in tackles for the fourth consecutive game, registering seven stops including a sack. Defensive end Vernon Gholston also had a solid effort with three solo tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery that resulted in a touchdown. Linebacker Marcus Freeman and safety Anderson Russell also recorded sacks.
Northwestern's lone touchdown came on a 99-yard return of the second half kickoff by Stephen Simmons.