Northwestern had a really rough time against No. 4 Ohio State on Friday night.
By halftime, the Wildcats had mustered only 90 yards on offense and fell behind 31-3, but the team’s first-half (and season-long) futility was pretty much summed up on one lowly play.
It was perhaps the worst example of long snapping one could imagine.
this is not how punting works, Northwestern pic.twitter.com/osJAjXXXMd— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) October 19, 2019
Yikes. And that came from Tyler Gillikin, a third-year starter at the position for the Wildcats.
Gillikin’s gaffe gave Ohio State the ball at Northwestern’s 15-yard line. Two plays later, Ohio State was in the end zone via a Justin Fields touchdown pass to Chris Olave — their second scoring connection of the half.
Ohio State went on to win 52-3 to improve to 7-0 ahead of a huge game against No. 6 Wisconsin in Columbus next weekend. Meanwhile, Northwestern dropped to 1-5 on the year (only win: UNLV) and could be in store for one of the worst seasons of head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s 14-year tenure. The 1-5 start is the worst for the Wildcats since 1992.
Northwestern’s offense continues to sputter
As Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde noted earlier this week, Fitzgerald has had offensive coordinator Mick McCall by his side for 12 years. Perhaps it’s time for a change.
While the Wildcats have been mostly solid defensively, they entered Friday night’s game averaging just 292.8 yards per game (125th out of 130 FBS teams), 14.4 points (No. 128) and 3.9 yards per play on offense, dead last in the nation. Those figures will decrease after Friday night’s 199 total yards and an effort of 6-of-20 passing for just 42 yards and an interception out of Aidan Smith, who started at quarterback in place of benched Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson. It was quite a contrast from last December, when the Wildcats met the Buckeyes for the Big Ten title in Indianapolis.
Things won’t get much easier with No. 23 Iowa visiting Evanston next weekend, but the schedule will let up a bit for Northwestern in November. At this point, though, it’d be a big surprise if Northwestern kept its streak of four straight winning seasons alive. The worst season the Wildcats have had under Fitzgerald came back in 2006, his very first season. They went 4-8 that year and have never gone worse than 5-7 since.
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