On a quest to finish the season undefeated, and in hopes of Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State falling, the Buckeyes' next test sends them to an opponent that Ohio State hasn't had the easiest of times with, despite the major difference in each team's record. The Purdue Boilermakers have had moderate success against the Buckeyes as of late, especially when the Boilermakers are at home. Since 2000, Ohio State has traveled to Purdue six times and only twice have they returned home with a win.
It's one of the most confusing, and infuriating, of situations. On paper, Ohio State is almost always favored and appears to have the better of the two teams, and yet, the Buckeyes continue to struggle against the Boilermakers. During the 12-0 run last season, Purdue took Ohio State to overtime and very nearly pulled off the upset. Thankfully, Kenny Guiton would fill in for the injured Braxton Miller and pull off the comeback. Now, head coach Urban Meyer makes his first trip to West Lafayette as the Buckeyes head man, riding a 20-game win streak (the longest current streak in the country). We'll give you five things to look for while you're watching the game where the Buckeyes hopefully start a new trend of winning at Purdue.
Take care of the football
Turnovers are a part of the game, that's just how it goes. However, you can do your best to limit turnovers and, better yet, win the turnover battle. Against Purdue, the Buckeyes have struggled at times holding on to the football, which helps give Purdue their chances. In last year's game at home, the Buckeyes had four turnovers to Purdue's one. In the 2009 game at Purdue, a seventh-ranked Ohio State team would fall to the Boilermakers after turning the ball over five times, to Purdue's three. If Ohio State wants to take care of business on the field, they have to protect the football. The good news is that the Buckeyes are managing their turnovers well so far, with only eight on the season including interceptions and fumbles. Purdue, meanwhile, has 15 turnovers on the season.
Feed the beast
Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde has been making up for lost time. After being suspended for the first three games of the season, El Guapo has been an absolute monster in the run game. Averaging almost seven yards a carry, Hyde hasn't had a negative rushing play up to this point in the season. In the off chance that the offense isn't moving as well as it should, the Buckeyes have leaned on Hyde's ability, and he provides the spark when Ohio State needs him the most. Against Northwestern, a struggling offense simply rode Carlos Hyde to victory, and if need be, they'll do the same against Purdue. Either way, Hyde has been one of the most consistent players on the entire team.
Improvement in the secondary
One of the weaker areas in the 2013 Buckeyes has been the play of the secondary. With suspensions, injuries, and inexperience all playing a role in the secondary not meeting expectations, they have slowly been showing improvement through each game. Bradley Roby was criticized for his play against Wisconsin and Northwestern, but against Penn State, coach Meyer said Roby had "his best game" this season. C.J. Barnett and Corey "Pittsburgh" Brown both ended up with key interceptions against the Nittany Lions, which helped quiet some of the critics. Now going against Purdue, a team ranked 93rd in passing, the Buckeye secondary has another chance to build on that performance and prepare themselves for a tougher passing attack against Illinois (ranked 43rd in passing) and Indiana (ranked 10th in passing).
No hope for Hazell
Purdue hired former Ohio State assistant coach Darrell Hazell during the off-season, after Hazell led Kent State to a 11-3 record in just his second season with the Golden Flashes. In his first year at Purdue, Hazell hasn't had much success, and sits at just 1-6 and has yet to win a game in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes don't want to give any hope (Did you see what I did in the heading?) or momentum to coach Hazell for future match-ups.
Play hard and getting a rest
If the Buckeyes can fight off their demons in West Lafayette and just do their job, then Ohio State will head into their final bye week to rest before the home stretch of at Illinois, Indiana, and at Michigan. This isn't a very good Purdue team at all, and their going through their first season under a new head coach and learning different styles of play. The only thing stopping the Buckeyes from hitting 21 straight wins, is the Buckeyes themselves. Survive and advance.
What else should Ohio State fans be on the lookout for against Purdue? Let us know in the comments below.