Northwestern's upset formula

Can the Wildcats take down Ohio State? Here are three keys

Updated: October 3, 2013, 1:04 PM ET
By Rod Gilmore | ESPN Insider

NorthwesternJerry Lai/US PresswireCan Pat Fitzgerald and the No. 16 Wildcats upset the No. 4 Buckeyes?

The last time the Northwestern Wildcats and Ohio State Buckeyes met on a football field, Terrelle Pryor was the Bucks' freshman QB (he led the way in a 45-10 OSU victory) and Barack Obama had been elected president of the United States just four days earlier -- to his first term.

How is it possible that these two Big Ten teams have not met since 2008? Perhaps the Big Ten didn't think the matchup was worthy of our attention, considering that Ohio State has dominated the Wildcats over the years. The Buckeyes have won 28 of the last 29 meetings with Northwestern.

This lopsided and interrupted series has a lot of buzz this year, however, with the matchup of No. 4 Ohio State at No. 15 Northwestern earning a prime-time TV slot (8 p.m. ET Saturday, ABC) and a visit from "College GameDay" -- which hasn't been to Evanston since 1995.

If you believe the oddsmakers, the Wildcats might not have much of a chance to reverse the trend, with the Buckeyes 6.5-point favorites on the road. After all, Ohio State has BCS title-game potential, and Northwestern is considered just one of two significant challenges on the Buckeyes' schedule (the other is pronounced Mee-shee-gan).

But after studying the tape, I think the Wildcats have a better chance than some think, provided they can execute in a few key aspects of the game.

How can the Wildcats win? Let's take a look.


To read more from Rod Gilmore on what Northwestern will need to do to pull off the upset over Ohio State, sign up to become an ESPN Insider.

Rod Gilmore

College Football analyst
Rod Gilmore serves as an ESPN studio analyst on SportsCenter and College Football Live, and provides commentary on ESPN's Friday night game telecasts. He writes regularly for ESPN Insider.