Here we go again. The Buckeyes are on the road at night against a dangerous opponent, whose fans are going to be more hyper and loud than a bunch of sugar-charged five-year-olds at a Thomas the Train birthday party. This is familiar territory for Urban Meyer’s team. It’s the third time they’ve been on the road at night (I’m counting the “neutral site” game with TCU as a road game since it was in their backyard). ABC did Purdue a favor and chose their matchup with the Buckeyes as the primetime game rather than the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry. It all comes down to ratings and advertising dollars, and the Buckeyes mean high ratings. But, did ABC really do the Boilermakers a favor? If it were an afternoon game, Purdue may have been able to sneak up on the Buckeyes, much like Iowa did last season. But, not now. Not after the hype that’s gone on this week. Ohio State knows exactly what they’re getting into. Because of Purdue’s offense, they’re dangerous. But, ABC may have made them just a bit less dangerous by putting this game in the national spotlight.
Through their first few games of the season, Elijah Sindelar and David Blough traded starts at quarterback for the Boilermakers. After Sindelar was injured in mid-September, Blough took over, and has helped them rebound from an 0-3 start. Make no mistake, Blough is the best pure passer the Buckeyes have played all season. He’s accurate and WILL complete passes against the Buckeyes. Start accepting that now. I seriously doubt if this Ohio State defense can completely shut down Purdue’s passing game. The defensive line is going to have to get after Blough, and pressure him when he drops to throw. The Boilermakers’ offensive line has given up twelve sacks to this point. Buckeye defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is going to have to be creative with his blitzes to disrupt and put more pressure on him. They need to make Blough throw the ball sooner than he wants; they simply can’t allow him to stand in the pocket and have all day to find a receiver. He’s not a runner like Penn State’s McSorley, Indiana’s Peyton Ramsey, or Shawn Robinson of TCU, so Schiano won’t have to worry about using a linebacker as a spy. True freshman receiver Rondale Moore has turned into the team’s most
dangerous weapon. He’s had a 70-yard TD reception and 76-yard TD run. We all are well aware of the amount of big plays the Buckeyes give up, so I’m sure Moore will make at least one. The key will be limiting those chunk plays. The question I have is which of OSU’s cornerbacks will be tasked with covering him? Damon Arnette may not play, so I’m going with Kendall Sheffield, who is one of the fastest players in college football. We’ll see if the new press-bail technique (for a great explanation of the technique, click here for Eleven Warriors’ excellent breakdown of it) we saw from the corners last week will work against against Moore and the other Purdue receivers. Schiano said they use a lot of personnel groups and formations, and they’re not afraid to throw in a trick play every now and then. The Buckeyes’ defense has their work cut out for them Saturday night. One thing I notice when looking at Purdue’s team stats. They’ve scored 28 of 31 times they been in the red zone, but eleven of those scores have been field goals. Their offense seems to bog down once the field compresses. The Buckeyes have kicked just four field goals out of their 26 red zone scores, but two of those were last week against Minnesota.
While the Buckeyes’ defense has their hands full, Purdue’s REALLY has their hands full. The consensus is they’ve improved from early in the season, but in Dwayne Haskins they are facing the best quarterback they’ve seen this season by far. This is also the best group of receivers they’ve faced by far. Their secondary is experienced; three fifth-year seniors and a junior. They held Illinois to just 181 yards on fifteen completions last week, but Nebraska’s true freshman quarterback shredded them for 323 yards in their September 29th meeting. I see Haskins carving them up in much the same manner he did Indiana and Minnesota. If Purdue takes away the deep pass, Haskins will get the ball in space to his playmakers with short passes, and effectively throw deep when the opportunity arises. Of Purdue’s seventeen sacks, thirteen are by their linebackers and strong safety. That tells me they love to blitz, and I don’t doubt they’ll come after Haskins from all angles. The Buckeyes must get a “win” on
first down to keep them out of 2nd/3rd down and ten or more yards. Those long yardage situations allow a blitzing team to pin back their ears and come after a quarterback. Ohio State’s offensive line simply must be better than last week. Left tackle Thayer Munford is nursing a hip injury. If he can’t go on Saturday, Josh Alabi will replace him as he did against
Minnesota. Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said Alabi performed well against the Gophers. He’ll need to again this week if Munford can’t go, because I’m sure Purdue will come after him. This is the perfect week to bring back the bubble screens that have been so effective.
Will the Buckeyes be able to run the ball this week? Purdue has held two of their last three opponents to under 100 yards rushing. But, winless Nebraska gutted them for 259 yards and averaged 6.6 yards per carry. I don’t care how many players Purdue puts near the line of scrimmage, the Buckeyes simply have to execute their blocking scheme. Too often players have either not stayed with their blocks, or just plain whiffed. I really believe this offense needs to get back to a faster tempo. Since Meyer has returned, the pace has gotten slower and slower. The slower the pace has gotten, the more they’ve struggled to run the ball. Pick up the pace!
After a disastrous 0-3 start, which included a loss to Eastern Michigan, the Boilermakers have now won three straight. One of those wins came against then-23rd ranked Boston College, but wins over Nebraska and Illinois don’t impress me. Those are two of the three worst teams in the Big Ten, and have a combined three wins between them. Head coach Jeff Brohm resurrected a program that was in shambles when he took over. The program had won just nine games in four seasons before Brohm led to them a 7-6 record, and a bowl win over Arizona; their first bowl win since 2011.
Earlier I said quarterback David Blough is accurate. He’s completing just over 68% of his throws for almost 1,700 yards, and 10 touchdowns against just two interceptions. Rondale White has 45 receptions for 558 yards, and is averaging 15.4 yards per carry on just nine attempts. Isaac Zico (20 receptions) and Brycen Hopkins (19 receptions) are averaging 20 and 18.5 yards per catch respectively. Leading rusher D.J. Knox has run for 540 yards, and averages over 6 yards per carry.
Strong safety Jacob Thieneman has 45 tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss, and 3 sacks to go with 3 passes broken up. The linebackers, who are led by Columbus native Markus Bailey (pictured), all have similar numbers to each other. Middle linebacker Cornell Jones has a whopping 11 tackles-for-loss. Redshirt freshman cornerback Kenneth Major leads the team with three interceptions. They have forced just eight turnovers in six games, and are giving up 414 yards per game.
What Do I Think?
Because the game is in primetime, I think it has gotten a lot more hype than it deserves, and people think these teams are far more evenly matched than they really are. Purdue has improved from the early part of the season, but I can’t help but think their resurgence has been helped by their schedule. Yes, Boston College was ranked 23rd when they played, but I’m a firm believer the ACC is vastly overrated. Nebraska is awful, and the only reason I don’t consider Illinois the second-worst team in the conference is because of Rutgers. I most certainly think Purdue will cause problems for the OSU defense, but I don’t see them being able to stop the Buckeye offense enough to get a win.
This is another of those “Super Bowl” kind of games. The Boilermakers can make their season with a win. Don’t be surprised if they score in the 24-28 range. But, I think the Buckeyes are going to be in the 40’s. They’re too explosive, and Purdue’s defense has not seen a team with this many weapons. I think the Buckeyes go into their bye week 8-0.
Blake Haubeil will be the Buckeyes’ placekicker for the second week in a row. Sean Nuernberger was injured during warmups before the Minnesota game, something Urban Meyer said he found out just minutes before kickoff. Haubeil was good on all three of his extra points, and hit field goals of 21, 27, and 47 yards. Gotta be honest, I think Haubeil has a stronger leg, and gives the Buckeyes a better chance on longer field goals.
In 2009 Purdue upset the seventh-ranked Buckeyes at Ross-Ade Stadium, and did it again in 2011 in OT on their home turf. Yeah, yeah, big deal. Anyone remember “Holy Buckeye” in 2002? Of course you do because EVERY Buckeye fan remembers it!
How big is Ohio State’s “big play” offense? Of their 41 offensive touchdowns, 22 have come from outside the red zone. 18 of the Buckeyes’ 50 scoring drives have lasted six plays or less. The Buckeyes rank tenth nationally with 22 plays of over 30 yards.
Dwayne Haskins continues to climb in the OSU record book. His 2,896 career passing yards puts him 14th on the school’s all-time list. The 28 TD passes he’s thrown this season is good for fifth all-time, and his 32 career TD throws ties him with Mike Tomczak for tenth. Haskins’ 2,331 yards this season is good for tenth all-time.
Center Michael Jordan has been named to Sports Illustrated’s, ESPN’s, and CBS Sports’ Mid-Season All-America teams. He was a two-year starter at left guard before making the switch to center. Not surprised he’s turned into the best in the country. This is the third straight year the Buckeyes have had a guard move to center and excel. Pat Elflein and Billy Price both won the Rimington Award for the nation’s best center. Jordan will get an awful lot of consideration as well. Chase Young was named to ESPN’s also.
“Mouth of the South” Paul Finebaum, ESPN’s resident SEC shill, says Meyer will be stepping down after the season because of health issues. To be honest, I’ve thought about it at times, and think it is a distinct possibility. But, I’d appreciate it if Mr. Finebaum stuck to telling anyone who will listen just how great the SEC is, and stay away from talking about northern football. Maybe he can spend time explaining to his constituents why a Yankee quarterback keeps leading his LSU team to wins over the SEC's best teams. I'm sure Finebaum grinds his teeth everytime Joe Burrow makes a play for the Tigers.
Purdue is the alma mater of Buckeye native Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. When Neil stepped onto the lunar surface he promptly claimed it for the Great State of Ohio. Trust me on this one. This shirt from Eleven Warriors proves it.
Other than Jeffrey Okudah listed as a co-starter at cornerback with Damon Arnette, there are no changes to the depth chart.
By now all of you know Nick Bosa is not returning to the Buckeyes. The rumors started on Monday, and became reality Tuesday when it was announced he had withdrawn from school. Nick’s dad, John, told Eleven Warriors his son had played with some pain in his groin the first two games of the season. During surgery it was noticed there was some muscle fraying in addition to the tear Nick suffered against TCU. The recovery, according to John, is going to take 10-12 weeks, which put Nick’s return date in early to mid-December. John said it isn’t worth coming back and taking a risk for a bowl game or playoff, “And it would be in a situation where it was a bowl game or a playoff game, and that’s just not, it’s just not something that you’re going to risk having to try and come back for that date.” Wait…what? So now, not only are bowl games “meaningless’, but playoff games are as well? Sorry, but I have a hard time accepting that one.
I have to admit I was wrong. Well, sort of. Immediately after his surgery in mid-September, I felt Bosa would return based on everything I’d heard about how much he loved playing with his teammates. But, by the tone of John Bosa’s, it was obvious to me he had no intention of allowing his son to play again in 2018. According to John, Nick did want to return, but eventually realized it was not worth risking injury to come back. Nick is the number one player on many of the expert’s NFL Draft boards, and could be the first overall pick next spring. I realize this is a business decision, and I’m sure walking away from his teammates is not easy. But, when John Bosa speaks of how difficult the decision was for the family, I can’t help but feel he’s being disingenuous. He has every right to worry about maximizing his son’s earning potential, but please don’t try to make me believe it was a hard decision for you. I’m not buying it. Nick is going to make a ton and a half of money. Money talks, the Bosa’s walk. I’m sorry, but this is a trend in college football which frustrates me greatly, and I’m just tired of it. So, I really don’t want to hear anymore from them about how difficult this was. Just go…please.
I’ve heard many say why should Nick Bosa play for free in college when he can get paid in the NFL? First of all he was not playing for free. He may not have been getting paid in the traditional sense, but he most assuredly was being compensated. When you sign a letter of intent to play college football, you are trading your talents for a free education. FREE. I know there are difficult demands on their time, and it isn’t easy. I’ll also acknowledge the NCAA puts ridiculous restrictions on these players earning any kind of money away from the football field, but they are not saddled with astronomical loans when they leave school. It took me twelve years to pay off my student loans and I had nowhere near what some kids are leaving school with these days.
The Saints have placed Ted Ginn, Jr. on injured reserve. He’s been out the last few weeks with a knee injury, and will now miss the next eight weeks. Ginn has 12 catches for 135 yards.
Raiders’ cornerback Gareon Conley may be in head coach Jon Gruden’s doghouse (it’s crowded there, trust me), but he still took the time to give back to the community during his off-week. The Massillon native donated 100 coats, hats, and pairs of gloves to Refuge of Hope in Canton. The organization provides shelter and hot meals to homeless men.
One baseball note. Boston beat Houston last night to advance to the World Series. Amazing what you can accomplish with a payroll more than twice that of over half the other teams in Major League Baseball.
If you want one of those “Ohio’s Moon” shirts from Eleven Warriors, click here. They’ve got a lot of fun stuff for sale. I have one of the “Brooklyn Dagger” shirts and love it. There’s even one that commemorates the “Holy Buckeye” play (King Right 64 Y Shallow Swap). Take the time to check out what’s available. Enjoy the game everyone.