– It was one of the strangest disasters of the entire 2020 college football season on a national scale. The Northwestern offense, really, really didn’t work, averaging just 297 yards and 16 points per game, scoring 15 points or fewer seven times.
New offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian comes in from Boston College where he was Steve Addazio’s guy for a year, but he has NFL coaching experience. He has a ton of work to do.
The passing game was the least-efficient in the nation, averaging just nine yards per completion with six touchdown passes and 15 picks, averaging a mere 4.5 yards per throw. Most of the top receivers are back, and the offensive line that wasn’t a problem last year should be a major strength.
– The defense did its part. Even with no help from the offense, the D was able to finish 25th in the nation overall, was great against the run, and allowed more than 24 points just four times. And now it’s about to be even better.
Start with the other side. The O should be a whole lot stronger – it can’t be any worse – and that alone will take some of the pressure off. Six of the top seven and nine of the top 11 tacklers are back. This will be a rock-solid sound D, and it all starts with the linebacking corps.
All-Big Ten performer Paddy Fisher is back after leading the way with 89 stops at his spot in the middle of the linebacking corps, but he’s not alone. No. 2 tackler Blake Gallagher returns on the weakside, No. 3 tackler Chris Bergin is back on the strongside, and they’re all seniors. The pass rush needs more options to emerge, but the secondary will be sneaky-good as the season goes on.
Ohio State Buckeyes
– Well that seemed to work out just fine. The Buckeye attack was fourth in the nation overall, third in scoring, No. 1 overall in third down conversions, and versatile enough to get things moving whenever and however it wanted. Even in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Clemson, the O worked great up until the very end.
It all started with the guy who appears to be the best Ohio State quarterback in a fantastic chain of talents.
Everything was more than terrific after losing Dwayne Haskins, with Justin Fields coming in from Georgia and being everything the offense could’ve wanted and more.
He had the help of a whole lot of next-level weapons around him, but he was the one running the killer offense with the ground game to go along with one of the nation’s most efficient passing games. The receiving corps is phenomenal – again – and there’s a strong rotation of running backs behind one of the nation’s best O lines.