Ohio State survived a tough test from Maryland on Saturday, battling back from a 10-0 deficit before turning things around and pulling away for a 37-17 victory on the strength of a stout defensive effort and some big plays by Marvin Harrison Jr., including the game’s final touchdown. Purdue, meanwhile, is coming off its third loss in its last four contests, this time a 20-14 defeat on the road at Iowa. While the 2-4 Boilermakers aren’t much to write home about, West Lafayette has not been kind to the Buckeyes, as Ohio State has dropped three of the last four meetings at Ross-Ade Stadium.
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Spread: Ohio State -20.5
The Ohio State offense still has not hit its stride this season, as the Buckeyes failed to score a touchdown on each of their first six drives against Maryland — a botched snap resulting in a turnover on downs, four punts and a field goal. A lot of blame can be placed on the shoulders of Ryan Day, whose play-calling has been abysmal, however Kyle McCord has also been shaky at times. McCord went 19-of-29 for 320 yards and two TDs against the Terrapins, but held onto the ball too long on several occasions and also severely under threw a few deep balls that were still caught by his really talented receivers — though they would have been TDs on good throws and could have been picked by better defenses.
The Buckeyes have really been carried by their defense this season, and Jim Knowles’ group was once again excellent. The Silver Bullets held Taulia Tagovailoa to under 200 yards passing with two total TDs (one rushing) and two interceptions, including a pick-six by Josh Proctor. J.T. Tuimoloau continues to come up big in key moments, registering his first 1.5 sacks of the season, and as a unit the Ohio State defense tallied five TFLs and five QB hurries. It was, however, another rough day for the linebackers, as they were continually put into conflict and took some bad routes both in the gaps and to the football, most notably on Tagovailoa’s touchdown run.
Offensively, Purdue scored its fewest points of the season in the 20-14 loss to Iowa. Hudson Card was not at his sharpest, completing 25-of-40 passes with two picks and a TD. Card was also sacked six times, which didn’t make matters any easier. It wasn’t a terrible day for the Boilermakers on the ground, as both Devin Mockabee (20 carries for 89 yards and a TD) and Dylan Downing (8 carries for 39 yards) averaged over 4.5 yards per carry, and TJ Sheffield had a strong day through the air with six catches for 93 yards and a score, but Purdue just could not score. The Boilermakers actually out-gained Iowa 357-291 on the day, but the Hawkeyes were able to hit on just enough big plays to earn them a victory.
It’s tough to learn much about the Purdue defense playing against a Brian Ferentz-led offense that is now without its starting quarterback, but the Boilermakers were pretty strong defensively outside an early long TD run by Kaleb Johnson. Still, this is a unit that ranked 102nd in scoring defense coming into the day with 29.6 points per game allowed. That being said, Purdue still ranks second in the Big Ten with 18 sacks on the year, and ties for fifth with six interceptions. Freshman DB Dillon Thieneman is a player to watch out for, with 53 total tackles and three picks through six games.
Ohio State can’t go into this game expecting to roll just because of Purdue’s 2-4 record. This is still a team that will be able to test the Buckeyes on Saturday. Card is an experienced quarterback, and he has some weapons alongside him in Mockabee and receiver Deion Burks. Defensively, the Boilermakers get to the QB and have made some plays on the football, so it will be another test for McCord as he looks to find some consistency. The Buckeyes have not returned to West Lafayette since that infamous game in 2018, and they cannot afford a repeat performance.
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