Purdue came into Columbus as double digit underdogs but brought much of the same dark sorcery they'd made common place against the Buckeyes in West Lafayette during the last decade. They seemed poised to shock the Buckeyes, but a late Kenny Guiton to Chris Fields touchdown and a subsequent pass to tight end Jeff Heuerman for two forced overtime where the Buckeyes prevailed, 29-22.
While Ohio State's defense had stretches of competency not seen often during the last two weeks, it wasn't improved enough against the big play and the Buckeyes offense often suffered from malaise for much of the afternoon. Despite the lack of production, the narrative changed considerably when Ohio State star quarterback Braxton Miller departed the game with an apparent head injury. After needing significant help to even make it to the locker room, Miller was ultimately escorted out on a gurney into an ambulance with the destination the near by Ohio State Medical Center.
On the football side of things, the Buckeyes were held to under 300 yards by a defense that was gashed in previous weeks by Michigan and Wisconsin until late in the fourth quarter. What doomed Ohio State early was their carelessness with the ball. One end of half Miller desperation heave turned INT aside, the Bucks were still outgained in the forced turnover department, three to one. Miller and running back Carlos Hyde both fumbled the ball (though one was recovered by Purdue under tenuous circumstances) and Ohio State backup Kenny Guiton threw a long ball to Ohio State wide out Jake Stoneburner that was tipped up in the air and ultimately snagged by Purdue safety Landon Feitcher.
But that wasn't all she wrote for the Ohio State offense. After forcing a late punt, Guiton led the Buckeyes down teh field hitting wide receiver Devin Smith in stride and then Evan Spencer on an out route. After getting deep in Purdue territory, Guiton rolled out and hit receiver Chris Fields to make it a two point game. A try that felt like it took forever followed and saw Guiton find an open tight end Jeff Heuerman to send the game to overtime.
In the overtime, Purdue won the coin toss and elected to play defense first. Guiton immediately found wide receiver Jake Stoneburner and then joined with tailback Carlos Hyde to get the ball down to the one. A diving Carlos Hyde touchdown gave the Buckeyes their first lead since the third quarter and a staunch Ohio State defensive series culminating in a Caleb TerBush incompletion on fourth down led the Buckeyes to a riveting come from behind 29-22 victory.
Of course things didn't start that way. Just after the opening kick, Purdue's Caleb TerBush found tailback Akeem Shavers who scampered from a completely lost linebacker Storm Klein en route to an 83 yard touchdown. Putting Klein in a cover four situation where he's responsible for anyone with running back or wide receiver speed is probably never going to pan out in your favor. To the Buckeyes' credit, defensive tackle Garrett Goebel blocked the ensuing PAT keeping the lead at 6-0.
Rod Smith restored some faith to a suddenly deflated Ohio State crowd with a 36 yard return. Braxton Miller made the kind of Braxton Miller plays we've all grown accustomed to on the drive though would ultimately fumble. It seemed almost as though that Miller had recovered his own fumble, but the whistle was never blown and Purdue all-everything defensive tackle Kawann Short ripped the ball out giving Purdue the possession. In spite of the situation looking suspect, there was never a review and Urban Meyer declined to challenge the result of the play.
While it seemed one-time fullback/h-back Zach Boren would start at linebacker, he failed to check in on the first two series. It wasn't a problem for the Buckeyes, however, as they opened with a three and out helping set the stage for a solid Ohio State offensive drive (one of their only of the afternoon). A Carlos Hyde 4th down conversion set the table for Braxton Miller's 10th rushing touchdown of the season. With 5:29 to go in the first, the Buckeyes led it 7-6.
That lead would be short lived as an Ohio State special team lapse would lead to a one hundred yard Akeem Hunt kickoff return touchdown. Purdue now led 13-7 and the onus would be on the Buckeyes offense to answer. They weren't particularly prime for it and after punting the ball, the Buckeye defense returned to the field. Ohio State's defense flashed signs of life for the first time in weeks, but Purdue successfully executed an extremely risky fake punt inside their own 20 to keep their drive going.
The second quarter wouldn't represent much of a change in tenor from the way the Ohio State offense closed the first. With the Buckeyes defensively still struggling to stop dink and dunk passes (a theme that would continue for much of the afternoon), a Ryan Shazier goal line deflection turned into C.J. Barnett interception would give the Buckeyes a new lease on things. The offense wouldn't capitalize. Miller and company looked lifeless for the first time since Ohio State's lackluster showing against UAB back in the season's fourth week. The Buckeyes offense would ultimately run 9 plays in the second quarter for zero yards. Miller completed the half just 6/15 for 52 yards with a hail mary INT at the end of the half and only 4 yards on 7 carries.
After an early second half punt appeared to be recovered by the Buckeyes after touching a Boilermaker, we saw a rare situation where what felt like an obvious replay overturn in real time proved to not only have been a correct call on the field (with the ball going to Purdue on an illegal touching penalty), but the reviewed field position actually benefitted the opposite team of the one we thought it would. In spite of what could've been a deflating situation, the Buckeyes defense answered the bell again and forced a punt of their own. Ohio State's next offensive drive would be their best in a while and was punctuated by a Braxton Miller to Corey Brown connection. Chris Fields, who had zero targets on the season going into the game, was successful on his second catch of the afternoon helping get the Buckeyes near the goal line. Carlos Hyde would punch things in to give Ohio State back the lead, 14-13.
Unfortunately the stereotypical bad Buckeye defense we'd grown accustomed to would rear their ugly heads once again and a 31 yard Gary Bush touchdown reception would give Purdue the lead yet again. In what felt like death by a thousand screens and bubble screens, the Buckeyes felt on their heels definitively for the first time on the afternoon.
Another Buckeye drive would culminate in another Braxton Miller fumble marking his third turnover of the afternoon. The Buckeyes had their second strong special teams effort of the day though when at the conclusion of the next Purdue drive, the Buckeyes blocked a field goal attempt which could've made things 23-14 and a two score game.
Braxton Miller answered the call with a huge run there after, but in a play that bordered on a Purdue horse collar tackle, Miller's helmet struck the Ohio State turf harshly and he would need medical attention. As of press time, Miller was still at the Ohio State Medical Center hospitalized with his status unknown other than scattered reports that he suffered a head injury.
With backup Kenny Guiton in for the Buckeyes once again, Ohio State's drive would be stalled at the Purdue 33, setting the table for a Drew Basil 50 yard field goal. Basil continued his recent struggles hitting the left upright on the kick keeping the score at 19-14.
Though the Buckeyes defense would prove up to the challenge and force a Purdue punt, the ball would roll and stop just shy of the goal line leaving the Buckeyes to take the field starting practically in their own end zone. After a hold on Andrew Norwell in the end zone, Purdue's lead was expanded to 22-14.
A few traded ineffective offensive series between the two sides would seem to come to fruition when Kenny Guiton took a chance on the deep throw to Stoneburner that was picked. With only one timeout to their name, the Buckeyes would receive the ball with 47 seconds to go. Kenny Gution would quickly find a wide open wide receiver Devin Smith. A few plays later, a risky run by Carlos Hyde gave the Buckeyes a first down and a pass interference call on Purdue's senior (and arguably best) corner Josh Johnson on Evan Spencer would give Ohio State a shot just shy of the goal line. Guiton found Chris Fields who just barely trapped the ball underneath him and gave the Buckeyes one final opportunity at potentially forcing overtime.
The ensuing play will live on in Buckeye infamy as Guiton moved, avoided pressure, rolled to his left and found the tight end Heuerman to ensure that if the ensuing kickoff wasn't taken to the house, things would be headed to an extra period. After the ensuing kick was covered successfully by Ohio State's "freak show" (their nickname for their special teams unit), the Boilermakers and Buckeyes went to overtime.
Urban Meyer would admit following the game that after Guiton's late interception he told him he would "win this game for [Ohio State]". Guiton proceeded to do just that. A pass to Jake Stoneburner gave way to a series of runs by Guiton and Hyde. A somewhat comedic dive effort by Hyde was just enough as he got across the goal line and an ensuing three and out by the Buckeyes was all this one had in store.
While the exciting nature of the victory likely largely masked a number of issues including a wealth of injuries and less than optimal stretches on both sides of the ball, the Buckeyes are still unbeaten and 8-0. Miller's health status may ultimately determine how far this Ohio State team can go the rest of the way, but Kenny Guiton's calm demeanor under center will mean if nothing else the Buckeyes should have a steady hand to guide the ship.
Ryan Shazier led a better but still not up to recent historical standards by the Buckeye defenses with 12 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss. The still learning the position Boren added five tackles a week after having seven against Indiana. Carlos Hyde finished the day with a team high 91 rushing yards and 2 TDs while the previously seemingly invisible Fields had his 2012 break out with 3 catches for 44 yards and the game tying two point conversion setting up score.
Where Ohio State goes from here is anyone's guess. While there's still improvements to be made defensively, injuries to circumnavigate and heal through, and more challenges on the horizon, the Buckeyes are still perfect. For now.