Dwayne Haskins wasn’t going to let the Buckeyes lose this game.
Northwestern gave No. 6 Ohio State a major challenge in this one, but OSU was simply too good as it took down the No. 21 team in the country 45-24 to win the Big Ten title.
And this one was all about Haskins as the redshirt sophomore went 30-of-36 passing for 499 yards with five touchdowns and an interception.
Haskins has now thrown for 4,502 yards with 46 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season, carving out a healthy argument to be the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner.
Here are three takeaways from the Big Ten championship game.
Assuaging some fears
Haskins is not the most mobile quarterback in college football. In fact, when Penn State pressured him in Ohio State’s matchup with the Nittany Lions earlier this season, Haskins got flat-out rattled when he was pressured.
Saturday, with one play, he assuaged a lot of those fears. In the first quarter with the Buckeyes in the red zone, Haskins bought time by evading not one, but two defenders before finding a receiver open in the end zone. It was a thing of beauty.
✅Great Dwayne Haskins scramble
✅Great Dwayne Haskins throwpic.twitter.com/DQLGMyq4it
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) December 2, 2018
Haskins sometimes gets compared to Byron Leftwich — more so for his arm than mobility. While he may never be a player who sprints for countless yards like Kyler Murray or even Tua Tagovailoa, if he can maintain that kind of mobility in the pocket, NFL teams will get even more comfortable with him.
A solid statement
Probably the biggest thought about Northwestern coming into this game was that it was the first team to play in a Power 5 conference championship game while going winless in non-conference play. There weren’t a ton of compliments being thrown around.
But Northwestern gained some respect in this one. The defense got some critical stops, the offense sustained a good number of drives and the Wildcats were in this game until well into the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats may not have received a ton of respect coming into this one, but they earned Ohio State’s by the end of this game.
It’s happened before
Now that Ohio State has beaten Northwestern and won the Big Ten championship, the debate will begin: Who gets into the College Football Playoff? One of two 12-1 teams in Ohio State or Oklahoma, or an 11-2 team in Georgia?
It’s quite possible Georgia gets in, but for now let’s talk about OSU and Oklahoma. Ohio State has jumped a fellow team with one loss before. It did it in 2014 when it jumped TCU to get into the top four in the final ranking.
So there is precedent. However, remember that year there was no Big 12 championship game, so Ohio State won convincingly and neither TCU nor Baylor saw action on the field. So while the Buckeyes have jumped into the playoff before, they have never done so when another team won a conference title the same day they did. Will this be the year it happens?
The question is, does the CFP committee value a win over a new opponent for OSU, or does it think a win redeeming a lone loss on the season is better? OU took down Texas after losing to it in the regular season. Taking the latter into account, it will probably be really hard for OSU to jump the Sooners.