EVANSTON, Ill. - Not every sporting event lives up to its hype.
But Saturday night's Big Ten battle of the unbeatens between visiting Ohio State and Northwestern was worthy of all the attention it received.
The two squads battled each other tooth-and-nail for 60 minutes before Ohio State came out on top of an exciting 40-30 decision that saw OSU running back Carlos Hyde score three second-half touchdowns as OSU rallied from a 20-13 halftime deficit to remain undefeated and keep alive its hopes of playing in the national championship game.
Ohio State drew first blood, taking the opening kickoff and driving to the Northwestern 10 before setting for a 27-yard Drew Basil field goal and a 3-0 lead with 12:31 left in the first quarter.
It was the Buckeyes second possession that led to a touchdown, but the touchdown was scored by Northwestern. Buckeye QB Braxton Miller fumbled the ball at the OSU 31 and Northwestern's Tyler Scott recovered, setting up a 9-yard TD pass from Trevor Siemian to Kain Colter for a 7-3 Wildcat lead with 8 minutes even left in the opening stanza.
Then, it was Northwestern's turn to make a major mistake as Ohio State blocked a punt and Bradley Roby recovered it in the end zone for a TD and a 10-7 Buckeye lead with 2:33 left in the quarter.
Undaunted, Northwestern immediately went on a 75-yard TD drive that lasted into the second quarter when Colter scored from 3 yards out for a 14-10 edge.
OSU cut the lead to 14-13, driving to the Wildcat 4 before settling for a 20-yard Basil field goal.
Northwestern closed out the first half scoring with a pair of Jeff Budzien field goals, to take a 20-13 lead at intermission.
The Wildcats increased that lead to 23-13 after taking the second half kickoff and driving to the OSU 15, settling for another Budzien field goal.
OSU appeared to be in trouble when Miller fumbled a punt at the Northwestern 7 and the Wildcats recovered. But the Buckeye defense held, got OSU back the football and Hyde culminated a 41-yard drive with a 4-yard TD run to cut the lead to 23-20. It stayed that way until the fourth quarter when OSU's Doran Grant intercepted a pass at the Northwestern 16. Hyde rushed for 11 yards on the first play then scored from a yard out with 10:52 to go to put OSU on top 27-23.
Undaunted, Northwestern went up 30-27 on a 12-yard TD pass from Siemian to Cameron Dickerson with 9:10 to go, but OSU responded with a TD drive of its own with Hyde scoring from 7 yards out with 5:22 left for a 34-30 lead. Hyde finished the game with 168 rushing yards.
The final TD came on the last play of the game when Northwestern fumbled the ball in its end zone as OSU recovered with no time on the clock.