Ohio State may not be heading to the College Football Playoff.
But for the second straight season, the Buckeyes are Big Ten champions.
Behind a 499-yard, 5-touchdown effort from star quarterback Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State beat Northwestern 45-24 in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis on Saturday night. But after entering the weekend ranked sixth, it seems unlikely the Buckeyes received the help they likely needed to crash the College Football Playoff, which will announce its four-team field on Sunday.
Nevertheless, the Buckeyes closed in on a conference title with another strong effort -- one which likely clinched a trip to New York City for Haskins as a Heisman Trophy finalist. What follows is a series-by-series recap of Saturday night's matchup, complete with highlights and analysis.
4:09: Ohio State 45, Northwestern 24: Ohio State seals this one with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Dwayne Haskins to J.K. Dobbins.
499 yards and 5 touchdowns for Haskins on 34-of-41 passing.
6:41: Ohio State 38, Northwestern 24: Ohio State forces a turnover on downs, with a Jeffrey Okudah pass breakup on 4th and 7 giving the Buckeyes the ball back at their own 46-yard line.
9:11: Ohio State 38, Northwestern 24: Buckeyes push their lead back to 14 points thanks to a 9-yard touchdown pass from Dwayne Haskins to Johnnie Dixon capping a 4-play, 75-yard drive.
10:34: Ohio State 31, Northwestern 24: Northwestern cuts Ohio State's lead to 7 with a 21-yard field goal.
12:24: Ohio State 31, Northwestern 21: Ohio State gets down to the Northwestern 10-yard line, but fail to add any points when Blake Haubeil's field goal attempt is blocked.
0:24: Ohio State 31, Northwestern 21: Buckeyes defense has revved up since the Mike Weber fumble, forcing another 3-and-out. OSU takes over at its own 40 as the fourth quarter approaches.
1:21: Ohio State 31, Northwestern 21: Ohio State pushes its lead back to double-digits when Dwayne Haskins finds Chris Olave on a 29-yard strike for his third touchdown pass of the game.
2:50: Ohio State 24, Northwestern 21: Buckeyes take back over at their own 40 after forcing a 3-and-out, thanks in large part to a second down sack by defensive end Chase Young.
4:51: Ohio State 24, Northwestern 21: Buckeyes fail to capitalize as Mike Weber fumbles it back to the Wildcats. Northwestern has the ball back at its own 39.
6:09: Ohio State 24, Northwestern 21: And just like that, Ohio State gets the ball back when Clayton Thorson's pass attempt goes off a lineman's helmet and into the hands of Damon Arnette. Buckeyes take over at the Northwestern 34.
6:41: Ohio State 24. Northwestern 21: Another 3-and-out for the Buckeyes. Ohio State gets a good punt from Drue Chrisman but some of the impact is negated by a penalty. Wildcats take over at their own 30.
8:03: Ohio State 24, Northwestern 21: Ohio State nearly caught a break when Damon Arnette appeared to force a fumble, but the play was overturned. Wildcats cut the Buckeyes' lead to 3 with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Clayton Thorson to Cameron Green.
11:27: Ohio State 24, Northwestern 14: Four-and-out for the Buckeyes, with a Dwayne Haskins sack ending the series. Wildcats take over at their own 15.
13:23: Ohio State 24, Northwestern 14: Northwestern marches right down the field, with an 18-yard Clayton Thorson touchdown run capping a 5-play, 75-yard drive.
End of quarter: Ohio State 24, Northwestern 7: Three straight incompletions for Clayton Thorson. Northwestern punts the ball back and the Buckeyes opt to head to halftime with a 17-point lead.
1:21: Ohio State 24, Northwestern 7: Dwayne Haskins bails the Buckeyes out of some awfully conservative play-calling with a 42-yard touchdown heave, once again to McLaurin.
5:14: Ohio State 17, Northwestern 7: Another 3-and-out for Northwestern -- their third in six drives. Buckeyes take over at their own 22.
6:09: Ohio State 17, Northwestern 7: Buckeyes add to their lead thanks to a 42-yard field goal by kicker Blake Haubeil.
9:35: Ohio State 14, Northwestern 7: Ohio State forces its second turnover in as many drives, with Buckeyes defensive end Chase Young forcing a fumble while sacking Clayton Thorson. Buckeyes take over at the Wildcats' 46-yard line.
11:16: Ohio State 14, Northwestern 7: Dwayne Haskins returns the favor, tossing up an interception to Montre Hartage.
13:31 Ohio State 14, Northwestern 7: The Wildcats put together a nice drive, but it comes to an abrupt end when Ohio State defensive back Shaun Wade picks off a Clayton Thorson pass in the end zone, giving the Buckeyes the ball back at their own 20.
1:23: Ohio State 14, Northwestern 7: A sack by Buckeyes defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones helps force a fourth down, giving Ohio State the ball back at its own 28.
3:29: Ohio State 14, Northwestern 7: The Buckeyes regain the lead as a J.K Dobbins 2-yard touchdown run caps an 8-play, 65-yard drive.
6:27: Ohio State 7, Northwestern 7: And we have a tie ballgame in Indy following a 77-yard John Moten IV touchdown run.
7:18: Ohio State 7, Northwestern 0: An Ohio State drive stalls thanks in part to a penalty on right tackle Isaiah Prince. Wildcats take over after a punt from their own 20-yard line.
9:13: Ohio State 7, Northwestern 0: Three-and-out for the Wildcats, who give the ball back to the Buckeyes with a punt. Ohio State will take over at its own 25.
10:31: Ohio State 7, Northwestern 0: It doesn't take long for Ohio State to strike, with Dwayne Haskins finding Terry McLaurin for a spectacular 16-yard touchdown throw.