It was bound to happen eventually, but the Buckeyes evaded it.
The Purdue Boilermakers came in with exactly the right gameplan to attack the Buckeyes. They attacked the edge all day against the OSU defense and found easy yardage when they did so. They also used good line and linebacker play to help shutdown the OSU running game, something that they hadn’t been able to do to anyone else all season.
But the Buckeyes had their secret weapon, “Smooth Jazz” Kenny G, who helped secure the 29-22 win in overtime. Caleb TerBush had a solid day with 17/25 passing for 224 yards 2 touchdowns and an interception. Braxton Miller responded with his worst showing of the season, completing 9 of 20 passes for 113 yards and a pick, and running 12 times for only 47 yards. The Buckeyes ultimately gave up the ball four times to the Boilermakers, which is certainly not a recipe for an easy victory.
Kenny Guiton came in and did a fantastic job replacing Braxton Miller. I’m proud of the effort he put in despite facing a difficult situation. His vision in hitting Devin Smith, who thankfully caught it, gave the Buckeyes a little bit of hope late in the game down eight with only seconds left on the clock. He then managed to get a key touchdown catch from Chris Fields for a touchdown, and another from Jeff Heuerman for the 2-point conversion to force overtime.
1. The young guns got some touches. Rod Smith got the first running back carry, and Michael Thomas got the first catch on third and long. We also saw a bit of Chris Fields, who made a couple nice plays when we needed it especially that last touchdown in regulation.
2. Defensive Improvement. Now wait, bear with me. The defense, other than one big play early, did a decent job of slowing and sometimes stopping Purdue’s offense. It was a solid step in the right direction – but certainly by no means perfect. Most importantly, they stood tall when it mattered most, most especially late in the game and in overtime.
3. Carlos Hyde and the offensive line. What a fantastic runner behind a very good run-blocking line. Despite the running struggles today, he still carried 16 times for 82 yards and a touchdown. It’s not great, but it was a gutsy performance for OSU’s top runningback.
4. The kick blocking unit came up huge today. They blocked Purdue’s first PAT, and then blocked a huge field-goal attempt to keep Purdue from making it a two score game later.
5. Playcalling. It wasn’t pretty most of the game, but it was perfect when it mattered most. The last drive engineered by Kenny Guiton was called and run to perfection. That 2-point conversion play was a thing of beauty.
6. Gut-check time. The Buckeyes dug deep, despite missing their starting quaterback, and fought back for a victory long after hope seemed lost. These guys definitely grew up a little bit today.
1. Big plays. Seriously? Storm Klein gets out of position and allows Purdue to score on the first play of the game? Purdue’s second score was on a 100 yard kick-off return later in the first half. At this point, we should probably just accept that this is a fact of this defense this year.
2. Play execution. The Purdue defense seemed to have our number all game, which is all the more depressing with how many running yards they gave up to Michigan and Wisconsin. The running game took a while to get going, but Purdue shut it down pretty quickly again.
3. The kick coverage teams are a disaster right now. That’s most likely due to the string of injuries sustained so far this season – however, Urban Meyer would be the first to tell you that is a “great excuse” and “we don’t accept excuses”.
4. Wide Receiver Blocking. This has been a continuing problem the last two seasons. The wide receivers simply cannot engage their blocks properly. This alone stopped a Carlos Hyde touchdown run, and probably a Braxton Miller TD run as well.
5. Braxton Miller’s injury. We don’t know yet what it is, but he was taken to the hospital after being looked at in the locker room. Thoughts go out to him.
The Buckeyes next face Penn State in Happy Valley. That game will be on ESPN at 5:30 PM EST next Saturday.