It is hard to find a game this week facing more off-field issues than Ohio State's Friday night trip to Northwestern. The Buckeyes are playing their first Friday regular season game in 60 years, much to the chagrin of local high school programs.
Friday Night Lights is a big deal in Ohio. We have at least one program calling for a boycott of tonight's game, which goes up against numerous high school matchups in the state.
The game in also being impacted by a change in the MLB Playoff schedule. The Yankees-Astros game scheduled for Wednesday was postponed due to torrential rain in the New York City area, bumping the series back a day. That pushed Game 5 of the series to tonight.
As a result, Yankees-Astros bumped Ohio State-Northwestern off of FS1 and onto Big Ten Network.
Those issues aside, there isn't expected to be a ton of on-field drama in tonight's rematch of the 2018 Big Ten Championship Game. Ohio State looks like one of the nation's elite programs on both sides of the ball, while Northwestern is just 1-4 and has a hapless offense.
More on tonight's game in Evanston:
Game Time: Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Channel: Big Ten Network
Spread: Ohio State -27.5
Announcers: Joe Davis, Brock Huard, Bruce Feldman
If Northwestern is going to pull the upset, it is going to have to drag this one into the mud, and force Justin Fields to play by far his worst game of the year.
The Wildcats have perhaps the biggest split between its two sides of the ball in the country. ESPN's SP+ ranking system, which measures team efficiency, has Northwestern's offense ranked No. 124 in the country, while the defense is ranked No. 5. The team as a whole is No. 62. Ohio State, meanwhile, took over the No. 1 spot on the country this week (No. 6 offense, No. 4 defense).
Northwestern hasn't scored more than 15 points in a Power Five game this season, while Ohio State has surrendered more than one touchdown in just one game, the season opener against FAU, and is averaging over 49. It is hard to see an upset coming tonight, but that is why they play the games.