As yesterday's game unfolded, I couldn't believe what I was watching. A Purdue team that had been gashed by Wisconsin for almost 400 rushing yards was completely stifling Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller. The OSU passing game was a combination of drops, sacks, and bad throws, and Urban Meyer's vow to eliminate the big play on defense went out the window with Purdue's first play from scrimmage.
Then, disaster struck. Braxton Miller went down hard after a 30+ yard run that I thought might be the spark to ignite the offense, like it so often is. Backup Kenny Guiton came in, and the OSU offense actually regressed, if that was possible. A pick and a penalty induced safety had the Buckeyes down by 8 with under a minute, no timeouts, and 61 yards from the end zone.
Then, the sweet jazz Moment, by Kenny G:
Ahhhhhhhhh, a win, especially like that, after all the big plays, and turnovers, and the starting QB going down, just relaxes the soul. Let's get to the SMR.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Kenny Guiton, QB: Yes, you came in cold. Yes, you threw an ugly pick which looked like it might have sealed OSU's fate. But when it mattered most, Kenny Guiton stepped up and created a moment that he will be able to tell his grand-kids about one day. That last drive, two point conversion, and then TD drive in OT was as money as money can get.
Carlos Hyde, RB: Until the fourth quarter, the only OSU player that was able to consistently make any plays was RB Carlos Hyde, and his were spotty. He had 91 yards rushing, but it was a quiet 91 yards, if that makes any sense at all. All credit to Purdue here; they did a good job shutting down OSU's running game all day, but Hyde was able to bull his way for almost 100 yards and a TD in OT.
The Overall Defensive Effort: When Caleb TerBush hit a wide open Akeem Shavers for an 83 yard score on the first play, I had to go to a pet store and kick some puppies. But after that, the defense played well, for the most part. They only gave up 117 yards rushing on 39 attempts, were 5-17 on third down, and TerBush only had 230 yards passing, 83 of which came on one play. It was incrementally better, and an improvement. At this point, I think that's the best we can hope for.
Special Teams: Seriously, this is getting old. Another kick returned for a TD. Ben Buchanon almost had two punts blocked. Drew Basil missed another FG. Yes, OSU blocked a FG and an extra point, but that isn't enough of a trade off. Penn State is up next, and a special teams performance like this will result in a loss.
Storm Klein, LB: Just not impressed with his game at this point. He gave up the big TD to open the game, and Klein just seems like he's out of position more often than he's making a play.
Buy: The Great Come From Behind Win: There's something to be said for not giving up and finding a way to win a game that your team really had no business winning. They were (-3) in turnovers, had no consistency on offense, gave up huge plays on defense and special teams, lost their starting QB...and won.
Sell: Having To Come From Behind Against Purdue: Like I mentioned earlier, Purdue has been gashed on defense in recent weeks, and this game should not have been this close. The Boilermakers had a great plan to contain Miller, and for whatever reason, OSU was not able to counter it.
Buy: The QB Depth This Season: Quite frankly, this win could not have happened last season. Kenny Guiton had a big gut check moment, and he came through when he needed to. And as well as he played down the stretch, I am a lot less worried about Guiton having to step in and play if Miller misses any time.
Sell: The Injury To Braxton Miller: When Miller went down, Ohio Stadium went silent, and when it was reported he was going to the hospital, my heart sank. Not because of a football game, but Miller looked really, really hurt. I was relieved to hear that he has been checked out, and was symptom free and released. That was the best news of the day, by far.
Buy: Miller As The Player That Makes The Offense Go: It became obvious that as Braxton Miller goes, so goes Ohio State. That's a two edged sword, as we saw yesterday, but I still like his dynamic ability to make plays.
Sell: Miller As The Player That Makes The Offense Go: Because it's a two edged sword, when Miller goes down, OSU's offense has a strong probability of going dormant. Hyde can make plays, but not consistently. we're 2/3 of the way into the season, and the offense is still looking for a a receiver to step up and make a play consistently. Devin Smith has been the closest to being that guy, as he made a huge catch and run to get OSU in position to score the game tying touchdown, but there's still not a 'step up' guy. And let's face it, 8 games in, there probably won't be.
Well, it's been a thing of beauty and at times an ugly baby, but Ohio State is 8-0, and that's all that matters. They seem to be a one step forward, one step back kind of team, but they find a way to win. Obviously, Braxton Miller's health is the overriding concern moving forward, but if he does have to miss time, Kenny Guiton gives Ohio State a fighting chance, something we couldn't say about the quarterback position last year.