Ohio State has just one victory in five previous games that followed open weeks in the regular season schedule since Jim Tressel's arrival in Columbus in 2001. The Buckeyes beat visiting Kent State 51-17 in 2002 but have losses to UCLA (13-6 in 2001), Wisconsin (17-10 in 2003), Northwestern (33-27 in overtime in 2004) and Penn State (17-10 in 2005). All four losses were on the road.
On the positive side of history, Ohio State has lost back-to-back games just twice in the Tressel era. That 2004 loss to Northwestern mentioned above kicked off a three-game losing streak that also included setbacks against Wisconsin and Iowa. Ohio State is 17-2 after a loss under Tressel.
Ohio State has won three in a row in the Northwestern series after the Wildcats snapped a 24-game series losing streak in 2004.
The Buckeyes have punted a total of five times in the last three contests with Northwestern.
The Wildcats are sixth in the Big Ten in passing, scoring and total offense and seventh in rushing.
Chris Wells enters this week ninth on Ohio State's career rushing list but could reasonably expect to move as high as sixth by the end of the day Saturday. He has 2,859 yards and has Antonio Pittman (2,945), Michael Wiley (2,951) and Carlos Snow (2,974) in his sights.
Ohio State enters the game 10th in the Big Ten in sacks allowed and ninth in sacks made while the Wildcats are second in both categories.
Twelve Wildcats are from Ohio: safety David Arnold (Copley), offensive lineman Joel Belding (Seville Cloverleaf), offensive lineman Ben Burkett (Toledo St. John's Jesuit), wide receiver Jeremy Ebert (Hilliard Darby), punter Mark Ison (Powell Olentangy Liberty), defensive tackle Evan Luxenburg (Beachwood), defensive back Jordan Mabin (Northfield Center Nordonia), safety Brian Peters (Pickerington Central) and running back Tyrell Sutton (Akron Archbishop Hoban). Freshman defensive tackle Garrett Goebel (Lombard Montini Catholic) is the only Buckeye from Illinois.
In the first 16 minutes of game action – 15:58, to be exact – Ohio State scored 35 points last season against Northwestern. Todd Boeckman and Brian Robiskie hooked up for three touchdowns, Maurice Wells ran for a score and Vernon Gholston returned a fumble for a touchdown as well.
Wells needs 41 yards to become the ninth Buckeye with at least 2,900 rushing yards in his career.
Ohio State has outscored Northwestern 160-24 in the past three meetings, an average margin of victory of 45.3 points. In Tressel's tenure, Ohio State has won six games by 40 or more points, including three games against the Wildcats.
Ohio State and Northwestern have faced each other 73 times with the Buckeyes holding an advantage of 58-14-1 overall and 25-6-1 in Evanston.
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel enters this weekend with 80 victories as head coach of the Buckeyes, one fewer than Earle Bruce, his former boss. Only Woody Hayes and John Cooper have more OSU football coaching victories than Bruce and Tressel.