2018 Game Preview: Ohio State vs Purdue
Ohio State Preview: It is tough to determine what Ohio State’s identity is as a team through 7 games this season. One one hand, they are a pass heavy team, with Dwayne Haskins challenging every season passing record. On the other hand, their defense is continuing to give up some big yardage plays, and is the weakness for Ohio State, who is challenging for a national championship. With Georgia losing the previous weekend, Ohio State was able to move up into the polls to the number 2 team in the country in both the AP and Coaches poll, even with a lack-luster win against a rebuilding Minnesota team. Ohio State will need to get its issues sorted out for the final stretch of the season. To be fair, in 2014, there were issues on the defensive side of the ball as well at this same point, and once the Buckeyes entered post season play, the position of spoiler and underdog motivated to that championship run. The Buckeyes of this year will need that same focus, as the country is awarding Alabama the number 1 team in the country.
Ohio State has done what it has set out to do, and that is to win games one game at a time. The record results should have fans happy about the season outcome so far, especially with wins against TCU and Penn State on the road, but the expectations for this team, at least on the running game and defensive side of the ball has been lacking. To try and stay positive, and refocus the outlook, Ohio State only has to worry about winning the game in front of them. As long as they keep winning, they will be playing in the playoff.
For the third time this season, Ohio State will play a road night game in West Lafayette, which will be the national coverage game of the day on ABC. Ohio State will need to be focused for this one, as they have this one last game before they have their bye week. There are a lot of injury concerns for the Buckeyes, especially on the defensive side of the ball, and that will be something to keep an eye on prior to kickoff to see who is able to play in this game.
Nick Bosa declared for the NFL Draft, so any chance of him suiting back up for the Scarlet and Gray has been diminished, but according to his father, his recovery would have made him available to play around mid-December. Chase Young has stepped up to fill in as the premier pass rusher, and Jonathan Cooper is stepping up as well, but is recovering from his own injuries. The linebackers are dealing with their own health issues as well but Tuf Borland seems to be full go after his surgery in the spring. Justin Hilliard has been stepping up at the linebacker role as well, and Meyer has praised his progression.
Dwayne Haskins is on a mission it seems to destroy every single season passing record in Ohio State’s history, some of which were set last year by JT Barrett. Eleven Warriors has a wonderful graphic to show how close he is to those records:
Assuming he continues with his current pace, he could break the touchdowns and yardage records during or by the Michigan State games, and should break the competitions and attempts record by the Maryland game. Ohio State fans are witnessing a pro level quarterback, and Haskins should be one of the top picks in next years NFL draft.
The running game needs to pick up to be a threat, and since defense can key in on the running backs for the RPO plays that Meyer likes to run, there could be a change in the running play calling. Haskins is not the same running threat as Barrett or Miller was, but make it easier for the offensive linemen so get the push that is needed for the running plays because the average rush per attempt yardage has been decreasing since the first game of the season. JK Dobbins and Mike Weber are great backs, but right now the strength of the offense is behind Haskins’ arm. Even with the rushing attack struggles, Ohio State is still in the top 5 in the nation in offense.
KJ Hill has been electric the past 3 games, and has been complimentary to Parris Campbell as the favorite threats for Haskins. Every wide receiver though has been fantastic this season, and should continue to be the difference in the game with their elite route running and blocking ability. This will help carry the team to the playoff should they continue to do the right things on every play.
Purdue Preview: The season started out rough for the Boilermakers, as they were a 4th down stop away from having a chance to beat Northwestern in the season opener, but lost that game and the following two games in close fashion. They are now though on a 3 game win streak after beating a then ranked Boston College team, and Big Ten foes Nebraska and Illinois. Head coach Jeff Brohm has been a great coach for the Purdue program, turning the team around last year after Purdue being the bottom dweller team in not only the Big Ten West, but in the conference. They are tied currently in the Big Ten West, and have been very productive on offense.
In some ways, this Purdue team has the same make up as this seasons version of Ohio State. They have a great passing game behind David Blough who has passed for over 1600 yards, and has 10 touchdowns for the season. DJ Knox is the lead running back for the team with 5 touchdowns and 540 yards rushing. The key player for this Boilermaker team though is freshman Rondale Moore, who has 558 yards receiving with 5 touchdowns, and 139 yards rushing with a touchdown, on top of his return game. Ohio State will need to key in on Moore to slow him down.
This game has all the potential makings of a trap game, with it being on the road, a good offense, and a night game for a resurging team. Ohio State has been in a lot of close games with Purdue. The last time Ohio State played in West Lafayette, they lost in overtime in 2011, 26-23. Purdue will be ready for this game, and looking for a signature win.
Buckeye Spotlight: Isaiah Pryor. Rondale Moore will be the most electric player for Purdue, and the best chance and player to slow him down and key on him will be Isaiah Pryor. Pryor has been dealing with something injury issues, but should be ready to go this game. If nothing else, the upcoming bye week should be enough motivation to play through some of the pain, and then rest up the next two weeks afterwards.
Boilermaker Spotlight: Rondale Moore. As Urban would say, Moore is a gamer, and he could play anywhere in the country. A lot of the success Purdue has had this season offensively and on special teams is due to Moore, and he can cause some issues for any team, including this Ohio State defense.
Water Cooler Stat of the Game: 1000. Dwayne Haskins current passing yards total is 2331 for the season through 7 games. He is 4 yards away from tying Bobby Hoying for 10th overall, set in 1994. The leader is still Joe Germaine, who passed for 3330 yards in 1998. For Dwayne Haskins to break the record, he will need to pass for exactly 1000 more yards. I do not anticipate him to hit that mark this game, but he has a good chance to break it based on his current pace against Michigan State on November 10. Let the passing yards watch begin.
Prediction: Purdue has an offense that can score points, and Ohio State’s defense has not shown that it can slow down or limit the big plays. This could be a late night thriller, but Ohio State will come into this game focused, and will get the offense rolling behind Dwayne Haskins, who will be going up against the 109th ranked pass defense in the country. Purdue keeps it closer than Ohio State fans would like, but the Buckeyes roll out of West Lafayette with a victory and into a much-needed bye week to get ready for the last stretch of the regular season.