Preview: Ohio State at Purdue

By Johnny Ginter on November 11, 2011 at 12:30p
The only picture of Danny Hope
Ohio State Buckeyes Ohio State 6-3, 3-2 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 12:00 PM ET - BTN —— Ross-Ade Stadium West Lafayette, IN Purdue Boilermakers Purdue 4-5, 2-3 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

This is it. The home stretch. We're three games and probably about 12 gray boxes away from wrapping up the regular season; as soon as the last second ticks off the Michigan game, all hell will break loose as OSU frantically begins its' search for a head football coach in the face of near-certain NCAA penalties and I begin my search for an instructor willing to teach me the deadliest dance of all: the Dance of Love.

Barring an appearance in the Big Ten Championship game, those things (combined with family and friends, I GUESS) should keep us occupied for the month between the last regular season game and the bowl game. But, to get there, Ohio State needs to once again successfully navigate a month that in the past has been very kind to them.

The Buckeyes haven't lost a game in November since 2007, and starting with the 2002 championship season, OSU is a ridiculous 25-3 in the turkey month. This record is a testament to a quality almost all of Jim Tressel's teams showed: consistent improvement. Starting with an incredibly mediocre Purdue team, the Buckeyes now have a chance to show that this was not some fluke related to sweatervest mojo, that Ohio State will not go gently into that good night, and that Luke Fickell will have a better than decent chance at landing a legitimate interview with whoever ends up as AD after the inevitable firing of Gene Smith.

As far as Purdue goes, well, they aren't great. But they might just be not great enough to knock off the Buckeyes at home, especially if Ohio State can't get the running game going. Let's take a look at the inner workings of the Ramblin' Wreck of the north (except about 1/3rd as fun to watch), the Purdue Boilermakers.


As discussed in the Dubcast yesterday, Basketball on Grass is more or less dead. Purdue's starting QB, Caleb TerBush, is no Drew Brees. He isn't even a Curtis Painter, although he kind of looks what a 7th generation clone of Painter would look like, after the cloning machine started spitting out weird looking copies with stuff like webbed feet or a propensity for some amazing inconsistency. TerBush is not a bad QB, per se, but unlike a lot of his predecessors he isn't the focal point of the offense. He's serviceable (~60% completion rate, has thrown a touchdown in every game but one this year, etc) but not spectacular. Backup and last year's starter before injury Robert Marve should play as well, but in a much more limited capacity.

The reality of the situation though is that Purdue is, or should be, a run-first team. Ralph "Mo Wells Junior" Bolden is a smaller RB with some serious speed, and frankly that's about as exciting as it gets for the Boilermaker offense. Bolden, like TerBush and the rest of the team, is about as reliable as an Amtrak train conducted by Homer Simpson ("I call the big one 'Bitey'"). He's only had one 100 yard game this year, and managed to average a pretty pathetic 2.8 yards per carry or worse against Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and Notre Dame. Bolden's best game came against Penn State, where he rolled up 97 yards and averaged 7.5 ypc. Point is, the dude has talent, but his lack of consistency hurts him.

The offensive line and skill positions have a few interesting quirks; the O-line is absolutely massive, averaging about 6 foot 6, although that hasn't especially helped them in pass protection, as they've given up 18 sacks so far this year. Justin Siller, a WR, has more catches than anyone on the team, and might pose some matchup problems with his 6 foot 3 frame. If TerBush is having any kind of success in the passing game, it's likely going to come through Purdue exploiting OSU's somewhat undersized corners.

Defensively Purdue slides from just "meh" to "straight up bad." Giving up 35 points or more 5 times during the season, including 62 to Wisconsin last week, is not the sign of a team that is finding its footing on the defensive side of the ball as the year goes on. Losing Ryan Kerrigan was a massive blow to the defensive line, which is helping give up 191 rushing yards per game, and 330 rushing yards or more in each of the last two contests. DT Kawann Short is the lone bright spot here, with 3.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Expect to hear his name quite a bit.

The secondary is anchored by teeny Ricardo Allen, he of three picks this season. It isn't a great unit, and their numbers are inflated somewhat by opposing teams running at will, but they can capitalize on mistakes. With their size advantage, this might be a good opportunity for Devin Smith and Jake Stoneburner to make a return to the spotlight, especially on intermediate and deep routes.

Buckeye Breakdown

With that said, it's kind of funny that I mention the passing game as if it were some kind of entity to be utilized and improved upon, instead of what it really is, a horrible disease which must be stamped out and obliterated. Ohio State is now is the 118th ranked passing offense in the country. That's not a stat that I just made up; the Buckeyes are averaging 115 yards passing per game on the season, ahead of only Navy and Army.

This pretty much has to change. Last week we were enamored by three 100 yard rushers taking over the game in the second half, and while that's great, someone needs to get open and Braxton Miller needs to stop floating easy passes. Another thing that Braxton needs to work on is throwing the ball away to avoid sacks, having been sacked a Jay Cutlerian 21 times this season.


I don't want to short change the rushing game, however. The return of Mike Adams has been a tremendous boost, and Boom Herron has been terrific. I also have to think that despite being listed alongside Jordan Hall as the 2nd string RB, Carlos Hyde has pretty much cemented himself as the go to guy in that position, especially given Hall's injury a few weeks ago.

In this week's depth chart there was some weird shuffling with the defensive line that ultimately I don't think means a whole lot, except that they want to get some of the younger guys more playing time. Simon and Hankins continue to play out of their minds, but what's encouraging to me is that we're beginning to hear more names called out than just theirs. Keep in mind that the d-line is still one of the youngest units on the team; Evan Blankenship is the only senior in the two deep.

The secondary remains a concern. I hate beating a dead horse, but Indiana converted on third and five or longer six times last Saturday, most of which were on scoring drives. The safties and the corners simply were not able to defend the middle of the field. Some of this might have been attributed to Tre Roberson extending plays with his legs, but a good portion also has to fall on the DBs simply not understanding their assignments. Watch for Purdue to try and copy that formula.


Part of me wants to be nervous for this game; it's at Purdue, where the Boilermakers have played much better this season. In recent years they've taken it to Ohio State in West Lafayette, so if you're into meaningless historical records there's that, too. Still, I remain unimpressed by Ralph Bolden and the rest of the Purdue RBs. They've been inconsistent at best, and unless Bolden is able to pop a long run for a touchdown, I don't envision them having an effect on the outcome of the game. The real test will be to see how well Braxton Miller performs on the road, especially since in his last road game he completed exactly one pass on four attempts. If he can maintain his composure and at least complete the illusion that OSU would like to throw the ball at times (even if they really, really don't), then the rushing game should open up and eventually take over.

I, in fact, was King Cool Guy last week, proving once again that I am both a King and a Cool Guy. You can e-mail me any requests for signed headshots; they're only 5 dollars each, which is really a bargain for something that's bound to appreciate in value. Anyway, this week I deigned to combine my brilliant prediction with the rest of the 11W rabble, and together we came up with the score of...

Ohio State 25, Purdue 15


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baddogmaine's picture

How does a team get to 25 points? Three missed PATs? A 2-point conversion? If we go for 2 it will be because we are trailing late against Purdue, and whatever the final score that will only add to the legend of Buckeye mediocrity.

For that matter, how will Purdue get to 15? We're not really going to let them get into FG range five times, are we? ARE WE???? Two missed PATs? Going for 2? - in which case Purdue is in position to tie late and that will only add to the legend of Buckeye mediocrity.

I don't mind the ten point spread, but our 11W team came up with what might be one the least likely ways of getting there. I'll take 20-10.

Mr. Slick's picture

I imagine he just took the average of everyones predictions and rounded to the nearest whole number?

Johnny Ginter's picture

that's exactly what i do, for the purposes of King Cool Guy and a season ending leaderboard i want to create (and also to see how close 11W ends up to what vegas thinks), i just round the average up or down. i explained it in my first preview, but maybe i should include a disclaimer in all of em so that people are aware of how i do it

Bucksfan's picture

I'd love to see the error bars just to see how wide-ranging the guesses are.

misterpants's picture

12 safties + 1 rouge = 25 points, obviously.

BrewstersMillions's picture

I like OSU 28 Purdue 3 in Woody esque game. 100 plus out of Boom and Guapo, Miller chips in another 60 or so. Defense should have their way with the Boilers.

Alex's picture

20-10 was my pick too....I will just take a win though

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I'll take OSU 26, Purdue 13

Class of 2010.

AltaBuck's picture

tOSU 24 Purdon't 12

It's going to be windy...again.


I am Groot - Groot

Tonga Buckeye's picture

My prediction of last weeks game proves I don't know what I'm talking about.  No numbers this week, just a close win.  OH-

"go not where the path may lead, rather go where there is no path and leave a trail"

Menexenus's picture

-IO.  I'm guessing 34-17 (good guys).

Real fans stay for Carmen.

Tonga Buckeye's picture

Our internet has been down for the last three days here in Tonga, so I didn't get the chance to comment on the PSU mess.  We get slapped with "failure to monitor" a Booster?  What about failure to monitor a coach?(psu)  You can't tell me that no one knew this guy was a perv!  Get real, you can spot em a mile away!  There, I feel better now.

"go not where the path may lead, rather go where there is no path and leave a trail"

doodah_man's picture

LAF Weather

Breezy. Mostly sunny until midday then becoming partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 50s. Southwest winds 10 to 20 mph with gusts to around 30 mph.


So much for the passing game....

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

Any win over Purdon't will be welcome. It will be close for us, like 20-16. But how can anyone ignore our history in Ross-Ade? It's lousy. Two years ago OSU should have kicked the Blahlermakers into Lake Michigan. They didn't. For some reason that only the supernatural world understands, the Buckeyes save their worst games for their trip to Purdon't. It could be 20-13 for them. Sure hope not. Let's not get too cocky until the Buckeyes win the game.

Nappy's picture

Does anyone else think Travis Howard went to the Deion Sanders School on Tackling?  He seems to avoid big hits like the plague.  Anyways, Im going 31-13 OSU.  I think Miller gets 2! TD passes and runs for another. 

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

He avoids hits and then tries to grab guys by their shoulder pads to bring them down.  I've seen some poor attempts at making a tackle all year by a variety of the team.

Nappy's picture

Yeah, Howards definitely not alone, just the worst offender IMO

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

William's picture

Howard likes to piggy-back guys.

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

At least Dustin Fox could tackle. Usually it was after his guy caught the ball though. Howard is def a softie. 

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

theDuke's picture

@Johnny, the dbs are fine.  sure they miss a tackle now and again but they can close like few we've seen in awhile. Its the LBs that can't cover the middle of the field on the short to mid routes.  But Alas, I've got the answer to this issue, a secret medival witchdoctor provided the prescription as A HEAVY DOSE OF SHAZIER!!!!


Johnny Ginter's picture

the LBs are part of the problem, but too often bryant, johnson, moeller, etc are far too slow to recognize when a WR is coming into their zone. both the safeties and LBs are getting caught up in transition and teams are finding seams to exploit that

theDuke's picture

i'm not a strategist, but we've played a lot of man2man this year so aren't the safeties supposed to be in support? while the LBs are responisble for the middle, at least in the short/mid range, 20 yds and in coverages?  and by no means am I bitchin.  watching the D is an annual ritual for me.  for better or worse.

ps- i will concede Moeller. like him cause he's a Buckeye, but otherwise...


Johnny Ginter's picture

afaik OSU plays mostly in zone, although they will shift to man to man at times. heacock likes to funnel the running action to the LBs, which is partially why the whole star position was created.

Buckeyejason's picture

Everytime I predict we will blow a team out..we struggle. Everytime I pick us to lose we pull it off(except for Nebraska).

So I'll go with a happy medium and say it'll be a relatively close game, with the Bucks winning by a touchdown. 17-10 good guys.


theDuke's picture

37-6 BUCKEYES w/ a Defensive score and 2 GET WELL cards (postage paid for) sent out on Sunday from nobody other than SHAZIER!!!


Bucksfan's picture

Purdon't sucks.  They're going to get cruched tomorrow.

theDuke's picture

hopefully crunched by a SHAZIER!!!


GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

Regardless of the outcome. Danny Hope has one bad moustache. He looks tougher than a two dollar steak, harder than a coffin nail..... it's too bad he can't recruit. Has anyone else heard the rumors of Purdue landing Mike Leach next year?

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

Idot08bojangles's picture

Bucks - 27

Engineers (both kind) - 13

Also our kicker tallies another solo tackle. Booyah!

Scarlet and Grey until the day I die.
idotter: September 27, 2008. OSU vs. Minnesota

baddogmaine's picture

How is it good if our kicker makes a solo tackle? If it's Buchanon it means we had to punt. If it's Basil either he had a PAT blocked or the kick returner got past our kick return team all the way to the last guy able to stop a TD return. It sounds good but no way is it good for the good guys.

Menexenus's picture

Basil did it twice in the Wisconsin game, and he appeared to be quite proficient at it.

Real fans stay for Carmen.

Bucksfan's picture

I went to the 2004 game at Purdue and was in a 3 hour sh*t-talk contest with some Purdue clown.  I also saw 4 year olds smashing buckeyes with a hammer in the tailgate lot.  If you really want to piss Purdue fans off, tell them Illinois has a better engineering school.

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

I went in 2000 to Ross-Ade, and Brees went apeshit for almost 500 yards. That was a long ride home. 

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

Ethan's picture

23-14 Ohio State

CGroverL's picture

Miller pops his cherry, throws for 200 yards and the Buckeyes end up with 450 yards of total offense. Purdue will get lucky and score, but not a touchdown. In this game, the Buckeyes finally show how good they can be. 


Ohio State 40, Purdue 6

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



Rooster Buckburn's picture

we get annoyed to no end hearing the 'boiler up toot toot' of the train, er whatever it's supposed to be - but Ohio State 31 Pur 10

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

37 our astronauts - 14 their astronauts. rushing touchdowns FTW

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Buckeyejason's picture

The Shazier man love is disturbing. Yes he is good, he's not Lil Animal by any means...yet.


Chris Lauderback's picture

Philly Brown didn't make the trip. Re-injured his ankle. 

blazers34's picture

i know we dont throw much....but thats just not good.  means our top 3 WR are now out.  dont feel good about that