Ohio State (6-3, 3-2) will take the field this Saturday against Purdue (4-5, 2-3) for the 54th time in the two schools' history. The Buckeyes hold the series edge with a 37-13-2 mark. The edge shrinks to just 12-7 when the two teams play in West Lafayette.
In fact, Purdue is 2-1 against Ohio State in their last three meetings at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The Buckeyes are 15-1 in November since 2005 and 8-0 on the road.
The last time Ohio State lost on the road in November was 2004—to the Boilermakers.
When Purdue Has The Ball
Ideally, Purdue would enter every game and be able to run the ball. They have talented running backs and a quarterback who possesses some mobility. However, they just can't find any consistency.
Against Penn State—a talented run-stopping defense to this point—Purdue rushed for 162 yards, averaging nearly five yards per carry. Then, just as surprisingly, Michigan held them to 89 yards rushing on 29 carries.
Fortunately for the Buckeyes, the Ohio State defense will have a say in which Purdue running game takes the field.
Ralph Bolden is leading the Boilermakers in rushing with 469 yards on the season. It's not a big number, but he possesses the quickness and vision to have a good day if the Buckeyes don't come prepared.
Akeem Shavers is the second running back for Purdue, but he's only carried the ball eight times in the last two weeks. He still leads Purdue with five rushing touchdowns.
Quarterback Caleb TerBush will also carry it a time or three during the game, but it's not an integral part of Purdue's offense.
The Ohio State defensive line has had some dominating moments, but as the season has gone on, the rotation up front has shrunk. Stalwards Johnathan Hankins and John Simon rarely leave the field, and for good reason. They have the ability to dominate offensive lines, and this week is no different.
The Buckeyes will likely play quite a bit of nickel defense this week to combat Purdue's three receiver looks, which means they will also rotate linebackers Storm Klein and Etienne Sabino.
Purdue quarterbacks have been sacked 20 times this season, so don't be surprised if the Buckeyes give freshman linebacker Ryan Shazier a few snaps to see if he can get after the quarterback.
TerBush has three receivers that he relies on most. Justin Siller, O.J. Ross and Antavian Edison all have at least 26 receptions on the season. None of the three have displayed much big-play ability this season, but that's because they are more effective with the short passing game which moves the chains.
TerBush is completing 61.3% of his passes this season and is throwing for 154 yards per game. He will give up some of his snaps to Robert Marve, who has shown very little consistency to this point.
TerBush tries to be careful with the ball, but can sometimes hold it too long and make late throws. The Buckeyes will need to capitalize on these mistakes on the road.
Safety Christian Bryant has had several opportunities to make big interceptions, but has had no success in actually catching the football. He will have another opportunity to get a turnover this weekend, and he'll need to make it count.
When it comes to special teams, few teams carry bigger legs than the Boilermakers. Place-kicker Carson Wiggs has 19 touchbacks on 49 kickoffs, and has a long field goal of 53 yards this season.
Wiggs will also be used in the punting game when accuracy is important. When the team simply needs to boom a punt, however, they give the ball to Cody Webster. Webster is averaging 45.5 yards per punt this season. The length of his punts frequently give Purdue's opponents prime return opportunities, but they've done a great job of containing those returners.
Purdue is solid returning kicks of their own as Raheem Mostert is averaging 31.6 yards per kickoff return.
When Ohio State Has The Ball
The Buckeyes will find out early whether or not Purdue is going to put up a fight at the line of scrimmage. It is expected to be a windy day on Saturday, so Ohio State will want to continue their pounding ways.
The Buckeyes are looking for their fifth-consecutive game with over 200 yards rushing, and if they get it, they will be awfully hard to beat this week.
Running back Boom Herron has rushed for 415 yards in just three games this season and has yet to be held below 100 yards in any game. He will again be a large part of this Buckeye offense.
Ohio State will likely return tailback Jordan Hall on Saturday, but the Buckeyes will still need to find carries for Carlos Hyde, who has produced whenever he has been given an opportunity.
The offensive line has controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the last four games, and while Purdue has some stellar talent up the middle, they will need to play their best game to get this win.
Nose tackle Kawann Short has 12.5 tackles for loss and will be a matchup nightmare for every interior lineman that meets up with him on Saturday. The Buckeyes need to make sure that everybody else on the defensive line beats them before Short does. They will need to be very aware of his location at all times.
The Purdue linebackers will be a busy lot and will need to make the vast majority of the tackles. Dwayne Beckford and Joe Holland are the team's two leading tacklers, both averaging around seven or eight tackles per game. If the Buckeyes are running the ball well, they will both be in double digits.
They will also be keeping an eye on quarterback Braxton Miller who has really come on as a running threat. With the defenses focusing on the freshman, there is a chance that it could lead to some big plays for the running backs.
If Ohio State tries to throw the ball against Purdue (they won't), Miller should have plenty of time to pass. The Boilermakers are barely averaging a sack per game, so Miller should have time to find open receivers.
The Buckeyes have no go-to receiver at the moment, but the busiest receiver in this game will likely be whomever isn't being defended by cornerback Ricardo Allen. Allen is a solid defender and is always looking to make plays in the defensive backfield.
The Ohio State special teams continue to be solid, and the return of Jordan Hall this week will make things better. Purdue is allowing 27.3 yards per kickoff return and has already given up a touchdown this season.
Place-kicker Drew Basil has made twelve field goals in a row, but could be tested with the wind this weekend. Punter Ben Buchanan is second in the nation with eleven punts inside the ten-yard line. He will need to continue being the weapon that he has been for the Buckeyes this season.
How It Will End Up
Purdue has allowed 191.1 yards rushing per game this season, and the Buckeyes will need to reach that number to have any chance to win this game.
Last week against Indiana, Ohio State ran for 346 yards, which was a 15-year high. Right now the running game is calling all the shots, and it isn't taking any guff. With Jordan Hall coming back, however, things may take a bit of a step back.
Braxton Miller will be able to balance the running game with his own draw plays and speed options. They may even break out some zone read to make things interesting.
Purdue, meanwhile, will be looking to move the ball with a short passing game. With the wind blowing, this might be the only way to move the ball in the air. This will also force the Buckeyes to play bend-but-don't-break defense.
Ohio State will need to tackle once Purdue's passes are completed or else it could be a long day for the Buckeyes. They should be able to manage.
If Purdue is going to win this game, Ralph Bolden will need to rush for at least 100 yards this week.
Ohio State 17 - Purdue 7
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