The Buckeyes visited West Lafayette today to do battle with the Purdue Boilermakers with the Big Ten Championship game still on the line. The Boilers, however, had something to say about OSU’s championship aspirations as they took the Buckeyes to overtime to secure the 26-23 victory. Braxton Miller threw 8-18 for 132 yards and two touchdowns on a day when the OSU running game simply struggled to get going. Boom Herron accounted for 62 yards on the ground compared to Ralph Bolden’s 80 yards and a touchdown.
Ohio State started the game with the football but struggled a bit. After whiffing on the kick catch in the endzone, the Bucks went to Dan Herron twice for a modest gain. On third down, Braxton Miller tried to hit an open receiver over the middle. The ball was tipped down field into the arms of Jake Stoneburner who wasn’t able to haul it in despite several chances due to some great defensive work by the Purdue coverage.
The Boilermakers were quite the opposite of the Buckeyes. Using a series of screens and runs, Purdue smartly moved the ball down the field. They managed to get the ball inside the five with a first down, but were unable to punch the ball into the endzone. The Buckeye defense had managed to stiffen, and a nice play from Bradley Roby at the goal line to bat a pass away forced Purdue to take three on the short field goal.
On their second drive, the Buckeyes again failed to make a first down and had to return it to Purdue. As before, the Boilermakers had no issue moving the ball against OSU’s defense. This time, though, they had no issue getting the ball into the endzone, running it around the left side nearly untouched from the five yard.
Overall the game had a look very similar to the Indiana game last week. The Buckeyes were not playing with effort or passion on either side of the ball. The defense looked lost against Purdue’s fastpaced passing and running, and the offense was simply unable to get any push against Purdue’s line. A lot of the issue involved Purdue’s strategy of sticking as many as 9, or even sometimes 10, players in the box on first and second down. Doing so made it impossible for the Buckeyes to get their running game going.
It is astounding that Jim Bollman is incapable of adjusting to the Boilermakers strategy of stuffing the box on running downs. It should be second nature for an offensive coordinator to see that and adjust to it. Unfortunately, on three straight drives we saw the Buckeyes run the ball straight up the middle into the teeth of the Purdue defense before trying desperately to throw it on third down. As is commonly said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That perfectly describes Bollman’s playcalling.
The Buckeye defense finally started to make their usual adjustments and finally managed to stop the Purdue offense. After a bad punt, the OSU offense immediately began to break their tendencies from the first three drives. Miller missed a short pass to the left side which would have been picked if it had been on target. On second down, Miller was forced to scramble and eventually found a wide open Boom Herron for 20 yards over the middle for Ohio State’s first 1st down of the game.
On third and long, the Buckeyes went no-huddle and Miller stood in the pocket against a blitz and tossed a pass over the head of a Purdue defender into the arms of Jordan Hall. Hall had plenty of space to make the first down, and did with ease, but wasn’t going to stop there. He cruised to the right sideline and got around the last Boiler defender before punching it into the endzone. The score was a huge spark, and exactly what the Bucks needed to get things going.
After several failed possessions for both teams, Purdue finally got their offense unbuttoned again. With Robert Marve at Quarterback, the Boilermakers attacked the OSU defense using a series of short passes and runs. Purdue was eventually able to punch the ball into the endzone from 10 yards out. The score gave the Boilers a ten point lead heading into the half after both teams failed to try to score in the waning two minutes of the second quarter.
Amazingly, the OSU offense only managed to gain 18 rushing yards in the entire first half on 17 carries. Considering the way the Indiana game was won, and the strengths of this team, that is a serious failing for this team. Purdue deserves plenty of credit for coming in with a gameplan designed to force Ohio State to throw the football.
The Buckeyes emerged from the locker rooms with a lot more energy than they had in the first half. The defense completely stuffed Purdue on their opening drive, forcing the first three and out of the game for the Boiler offense. Then, the Buckeye offense got the ball moving with authority. Using Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall as running backs with Boom Herron out with a minor injury, the Bucks blitzed their way down the field to score on a 5 yard Braxton Miller option.
The remainder of the 3rd quarter passed with neither offense managing to make it into scoring position. Purdue, however, did manage to win the field position battle so that the Buckeyes were forced to punt into the wind at the beginning of the 4th. That gave the Boilers the ball just inside OSU territory. After TerBush tossed a ball way too long on third and short, the Boilers kicked a field goal to take a 6 point lead with most of a quarter left to play.
There is something to be said for having a quarterback that can run the draw like Braxton Miller. Repeatedly on third and long the Buckeyes called a designed quarterback draw play that Miller was able to turn into just enough yardage for a first down. Miller’s ability to evade tacklers and get just enough for the first down is an impressive feat; especially when the other team is expecting him to be able to run the football.
The Bucks got the ball with 7 and a half minutes left in the game still down 6, and started to confidently move the ball down the field. Miller showed confidence throwing the ball, and Boom Herron and Jordan Hall found all sorts of success on the ground. Unfortunately a penalty set OSU back into a 3rd and long that they weren’t able to convert using the Miller draw.
It came down to a fourth and 3 from the 15. Braxton Miller dropped back to pass and couldn’t find an open receiver. He scrambled away from pressure and soon had to heave a desperate pass to Jordan Hall near the endzone. Hall came down with the pass and was tackled into the endzone for the touchdown. Unfortunately, Drew Basil has his extra point blocked, the first extra point he has missed all season, leaving the game in a tie with less than a minute left on the clock.
Purdue, of course, needed only a field goal and had plenty of time on the clock to get it done. Starting from just inside their own 40, Marve found an open receiver against OSU’s soft zone coverage. The pass put Purdue inside Buckeye territory and made it look like the Boilers were easily going to make field goal range. On the next play, however, Marve attempted to take a shot down the field that was over thrown and picked off by Orhian Johnson that allowed the Bucks to force overtime.
Purdue won the toss in the overtime period and elected to play defense first. The Bucks struggled to move the ball initially, getting stuffed on a Boom Herron dave run, followed by Braxton Miller taking a sack on second down. On third and very long, Miller hit TY Williams for the majority of the needed yards, but Williams wasn’t able to get over the first down marker before being brought down. Drew Basil put the field goal through the upright, putting the game in the defense’s hands.
The Boilermakers simply wanted it more. With Robert Marve in at quarterback, the Boilers found several open receivers against OSU’s coverage and coverted a couple big 3rd down plays to get down to the one yard line. On the very next play, Marve QB sneaked into the endzone for the win.
The Buckeyes next play Penn State in Columbus on Saturday, November 19th at 3:30 PM. You’ll be able to see that game on ABC.