Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 27, 2018 at 10:54 pm.

QB Haskins powers Ohio State to Big Ten title game

Just a few days ago, oddsmakers didn’t believe Ohio State would be playing a game this week. But the Buckeyes defied the odds and beat Michigan in an almost inconceivable way, throttling their heated rival in a 62-39 beatdown last Saturday.

No. 5 Ohio State was a rare underdog at home for that game and instead showed Michigan who’s still the boss in the Big Ten East Division. Urban Meyer remained undefeated at 7-0 against Michigan as Ohio State sent Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh to his fourth straight loss in the series.

Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) won’t be an underdog on Saturday night against No. 21 Northwestern (8-4, 8-1) in the Big Ten Championship Game at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.

That’s mostly because Ohio State has quarterback Dwayne Haskins on its side. The sophomore continued a phenomenal season in an epic performance against Michigan.

Haskins completed 19 of 30 passes for 396 yards and six touchdowns, and he also ran the ball seven times for 34 yards while marching the Buckeyes up and down the field against the top-ranked defense in the nation.

“I don’t know about 62,” Haskins said when asked about the prolific offensive output against Michigan. “But I knew we were going to come out and put on a show. I’m proud of how we played. It started up front with the O-line. And the playmakers made plays. That’s what mattered.”

Ohio State played their way back into the College Football Playoff conversation by dominating Michigan. Will it be enough to get the Buckeyes into the four-team field? That’s a moot debate unless they take care of Northwestern this week.

“Yeah, we played well, so we’ve got to do it again versus Northwestern next week and let the committee make a decision from there,” Haskins said.

“But we’re going to keep putting good stuff out there on film, and keep getting better. And I feel like we can still get better; we haven’t played our best game yet. So there’s a ways to go for us.”

Haskins has performed like no other quarterback in Big Ten history this season. He shattered two more conference records last week — touchdown passes in a season (42, breaking the mark set by Purdue’s Drew Brees) and passing yards in a season (4,081, moving past Purdue’s Curtis Painter). And he still has at least two games to play this year.

Beyond that, Haskins will have to decide after the season about the direction of his football future. As a redshirt sophomore, he’s eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft.

“I’m not done yet,” he said.

“But I want to be one of the best to ever do it when I get gone playing here at this university. And this is a dream come true for me. I have no words to say about, like, all we’ve done this year. It’s been a dream of mine to play here at the university for a while.

“And to break all these records and to go win these games the way we’ve won these games is a blessing.”

There also is speculation that Meyer might be calling it quits after this season because of health issues. Asked Monday at a weekly news conference about his future plans and his health, Meyer answered “good” to several related questions.

Later, Meyer said, “I plan to coach” next year before quickly drawing laughs with a comment about special teams play.