“At some point in an individual battle, the other guy says, ‘I don’t want to go anymore, I’ve had enough.’ The same thing with a team. At some point that team says, ‘No, wait a minute. That’s too much for us to handle.’ That’s called tapping out. We will never see this here. That’s a culture. That’s a mindset.” — Urban Meyer, 2012
Heading into his seventh season as Ohio State’s head coach, Urban Meyer has successfully implemented the desired culture and mindset in every aspect of the Ohio State football program.
Competition throughout every position group reigns supreme, and the bluest of blue-chip recruits are always on the way in the form of reinforcements.
Throughout the spring and summer, I want to review the upcoming 2018 Ohio State football opponents, using the theme of competition as the baseline. While Ohio State has had more challenging schedules in the past, there are several games on the schedule that could potentially trip the Buckeyes up and end their goal of repeating as B1G champions.
These articles will examine the 2018 opponents, from least concerning to most concerning, based on various factors that I will list in the respective articles.
As always, I encourage interaction, either through the comments section below, or directly @ChipMinnich. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I look forward to writing them.
6. at Purdue Boilermakers (7-6 in 2017)
It has been a long time since the Purdue faithful came into a college football season with optimistic beliefs. Jeff Brohm took over a program that was reeling from the Darrell Hazell era (error?), and was able to make the Boilermakers competitive and entertaining from the onset of the 2017 season.
They opened with a close loss to Louisville in the season opener (35-28), followed up by wins over Ohio University (44-21) and at Missouri (35-3). The losses were not blowouts, with some of them bordering on the line of inexplicable (14-12 at Rutgers, 25-24 to Nebraska). Those close losses, plus a second year in Jeff Brohm’s system, has the Boilermakers a popular choice to be a factor within The B1G West in 2018.
Ohio State fans may not have many concerns about going to West Lafayette, Indiana, in mid-October to take on Purdue. The two teams last met in 2013, under the previous Purdue coaching regime, when the Ohio State coaches decided to give some random freshman an opportunity to make a play on special teams kick coverage.
There are no current Buckeyes who remember that dominant 56-0 victory for the Buckeyes. On the other hand, Urban Meyer and his Ohio State coaching staff can certainly recite how previous Ohio State teams have gone into West Lafayette as heavy favorites, only to be on the losing side of the ledger. Such as the games in 2009 and 2011.
Why did I rank Purdue as a game of medium concern?
Yes, Jeff Brohm has Purdue going in the right direction. Yes, Purdue has upset Ohio State in the not-so-distant past, and Urban Meyer is well aware of how dangerous Purdue can be, especially on their home field. As of this writing, a kickoff time has not yet been established, and Purdue could be undefeated when Ohio State comes to town on October 20th (Northwestern, Eastern Michigan, Missouri, Boston College, at Nebraska, at Illinois).
But…Purdue lost seven starters from its 2017 defense, with middle linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (5th round draft choice by New England in the 2018 NFL Draft) possibly the biggest loss to overcome.
While Purdue’s co-defensive coordinators Nick Holt and Anthony Poindexter will do their best, I am skeptical that the Boilermakers will have either the speed or depth to match what should be a very difficult Ohio State offense to contain.