Is it possible to have two trap games back to back? If so, then the Buckeyes have hit the tail end of that portion of their schedule with the Boilermakers coming into Columbus tomorrow for a noon contest that has all the hallmarks and hype of a revenge game. Head Coach Urban Meyer looks to continue his unbeaten first season in Scarlet and Gray, but Danny Hope has other plans and is looking to play spoiler to well….nothing, really. An AP Title? Only if Alabama manages to lose a game or two, then we can talk.
We saw what can happen in Bloomington when a team is looking ahead to future matchups and lets a game nearly slip away from them. The Buckeyes and their coaching staff simply cannot let that mentality show through in another sloppy performance such as last week’s. The good news is that Purdue is perennially Purdue and neither Robert Marve nor Caleb TerBush are Drew Brees. Still, the defense will have to perform better than they did against the Hoosiers, which shouldn’t be any tall feat.
Mike Vrabel, Kerry Coombs, and especially Luke Fickell have no doubt stressed the importance of a stout “Ohio State worthy” defense this Saturday against a foe that has historically had either their best game of the season or their worst against the Buckeyes. If the Good Boilermakers show up and the Bad News Bullets decide to come out, this could turn ugly in a hurry. This game should be well in hand for Meyer and company by the middle of the second quarter, but we’re obliged to bring you a full-throated analysis of the game anyway, so here we go.
Clearly and unanimously this has to go to Ohio State. Quarterback Braxton Miller is on pace to shatter the single season total offense record set by Bobby Hoying (3290) and should be able to run and pass all over the Boilermaker defense all afternoon long. Purdue ranks 11th in the conference in total defense, giving over 411 yards per game to their opponents. Those are numbers that make Carlos Hyde and Corey Brown salivate. Only Indiana is worse in both total and rushing defense, however, so take that for what it is worth.
The Boilermakers strength is the passing game, so the linebackers and secondary will have to seriously step up their games and shut down the short routes as well as taking away the long looks. The Buckeyes will counter with a power running game and hopefully Braxton hits a better percentage of his reads this week. As always, keep your eyes on #15, Devin Smith down the sidelines or hanging out drinking a Four Loko in centerfield and waiting for the ever impending MillerBomb to come his way.
Advantage: Ohio State
At any other point in any other season in recent memory, this would be a shoe in for the Buckeyes every dang time. But given the wholly lackluster performance from Ohio State in recent weeks, with the exception of the swarming D against Nebraska, it was difficult to award them the advantage. Yet I did, despite the fact that statistically Ohio State has the worst passing defense in the conference. They also have the most interceptions.
They have allowed 10 rushing touchdowns, but have recovered 50% of all fumbles forced. Add in 16 sacks and 34 tackles for loss and you have the potential for a great defense. If it ever starts clicking and men start tackling. That is, wrapping up their target and bringing him to the turf in a timely fashion, regardless of ability or desire to cause or create a turnover. The Buckeyes are near the bottom of the B1G in actually forcing those fumbles, so conventional wisdom would dictate that focus should be on fundamentals, which have been sorely lacking on the defensive side of the ball all season.
Yet Purdue is no better and has a lower ceiling of potential. If the Buckeyes come to play, then Rob Henry might want to start warming up now and getting to know his playbook a bit more intimately. The Purdue defense is nothing to write home about. They are middle of the road in the Big Ten in most categories, as is the usual for the Boilermakers. However, if Bad Boilers show up, this could be another 49-0 repeat. It all hinges on whether or not the defense was had the fear of Urban sufficiently instilled in them this week. I think they did.
Advantage: Ohio State
Coaching, Special Teams, Intangibles
Danny Hope has a glorious mustache. No seriously, it’s a flavor catcher that makes most men jealous. Yet it pales in comparison to The UrbzStache. The UrbzStache knows no bounds. It exists on planes not known to man. Some have claimed to have seen the shadow of the Stache appear when Meyer is truly pleased with his team’s performance. Will a glimpse be caught by some enterprising young photojournalist? Only Saturday can bring us that answer.
In all seriousness though, Urban Meyer > Danny Hope. That’s just science. As for Special Teams, Drew Basil broke all of our hearts by missing his first field goal of the year but looks to regain our good graces going forward. Ben Buchanan continues to want to cheer from the sidelines and Urban smiles as his Freak Show does their thing. When everything is clicking, there is probably no other special teams unit outside of Florida State and perhaps Alabama in the country. Meyer simply doesn’t want touchbacks and Buchanan and Basil are surgeons.
Intangibles? We don’t need no stinking intangibles! But if pressed, the overall vigor that should be displayed by the defense should bolster not only the offense, but the crowd as well. A crowd that is eager to see a repeat performance of the last game in the Horseshoe. A game that they can say epitomized Ohio State. And that all starts with John Simon, probably the biggest intangible of them all. If Simon gets hungry early, there may be no stopping him.
Advantage: Ohio State
Final Score Prediction: Ohio State 59 – Purdue 21