KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
SITE: Ryan Field, Evanston, Ill.
SERIES: Ohio State leads 59-14-1 but these two teams have not met since the 2008 season when the Buckeyes were 45-10 winners.
RANKINGS: Ohio State No. 4; Northwestern No. 16
KEYS TO THE GAME
Northwestern football hits the big time this Saturday.
No. 4 Ohio State (5-0, 1-0) visits Evanston, Ill. for the first time since 2008 and ESPN's Game Day tags along to chronicle the Big Ten season-opening clash for the No. 16 Wildcats (4-0, 0-0).
Northwestern is back in action after a two-week break.
"When you have a bye week it just seems like so long since you last played," Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "The guys have been real focused in the practices now that we've had and hopefully they'll continue to enjoy the moment."
The Buckeyes have won four straight in the series and 28 of the last 29 meetings against Northwestern.
The Wildcats last played on Sept. 21 in a 35-21 non-conference victory over Maine that featured some defensive highlights and shortcomings.
Northwestern tops the nation with 10 interceptions and have 19 picks in their last seven games going back to last season. But the 'Cats pass defense has also struggled and has given up an average 308.8 yards per game, ranked 117th in the nation.
They'll need to do better against Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, back after missing the last two weeks. He earned Big Ten offensive player of the Week honors after completing 17-of-25 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns in the Buckeyes' 31-24 win over Wisconsin.
He's also Ohio State's all-time leading rusher at quarterback (2,151 yards) and leads a team ranked second in the Big Ten and 12th in the NCAA with 287.2 yards per game on the ground.
Ohio State is averaging a Big Ten-best 48.2 points per game, ranked sixth in the country.
Northwestern is ranked 18th in the NCAA with 249.5 rushing yards per game and 30th overall with a 483.3 yards per-game average. The 'Cats have successfully managed a two-quarterback system with senior Kain Colter and junior Trevor Siemian.
Colter has 264 yards passing with three TDs and 237 yards rushing and three TDs. Siemian has completed 77.1 percent of his passes for 671 yards, four TDs and two interceptions.
Senior RB Venric Mark, a second team All-Big Ten performer and first-team All-American as punt returner in 2012, has not played since the Aug. 31 game at Cal because of an injury. "Usually you dream about this when you're young, playing big-time games like this," Colter said. "But we don't want to overhype it, I feel we don't need to play out of this world. We just need to play our game and each phase of the game to be able to win."
Northwestern has won seven in a row straight dating back to last season and holds the nation's third-longest active winning streak, tied with Alabama and Baylor. The Wildcats last won seven straight during their 1996 Big Ten Championship season.
Ohio State has won 17 in a row, the nation's longest current winning streak.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Braxton Miller returned after missing most of three games with a knee injury and was exceptional against Wisconsin. Miller's four touchdown passes in the 31-24 victory were a personal best. He hit on 17 of 25 passes for 198 yards and also rushed 22 times for 83 yards. Miller looks healed, and highly motivated to make up for the lost time.