Football

Grumpy Old Buckeye: Ohio State vs. Purdue

Ohio State entered Saturday’s game against Purdue as the villain by having the audacity to be the higher ranked team in the top 25. The narrative entering the match-up was about how those plucky (No. 19) Boilermakers were giant killers who had already knocked off two highly ranked opponents on the season (no mention of the loss to 12th-ranked Notre Dame — that doesn’t fit the story), and “OMG, what if they do it again, y’all?”

That narrative was already annoying enough without the broadcast reminding everyone about the last game in West Lafayette, when the Buckeyes were ambushed by an emotionally charged Purdue team. It appeared the Buckeyes didn’t like hearing about that game either, as they raced out to an early lead and, despite a few defensive lapses, never really were threatened in a 59-31 win.

Here are the things that had me muttering under my breath over the course of the four quarters on Saturday.

Concessions

Ohio State got a stop on defense and then immediately scored a touchdown to open the game. So, obviously the defense had to give those points back on the ensuing Purdue drive. The OSU defense has not exactly come out fired up after an offensive score for much of the year. It’s a difficult problem for the offensive players, knowing that if they are successful, the defense will just give those points right back. However, if they struggle, the defense plays its best football. My empathy completely lies with the offense, having to decide whether to bother scoring or not.

The defense as a whole wasn’t great against a solid Purdue offense over the course of the game. It made some plays here and there, but it seemed like an overall strategy of trying not to give up big plays. That allowed the Boilermakers to score on repeated death-by-papercut drives. The defensive line didn’t get near Aidan O’Connell all game long and scarcely altered a throw, while at the same time allowing decent chunks of yardage on the few Purdue running plays.

Overall, the thing that aggravated me most about the defense is that it didn’t get enough stops to widen the gap so that some more backups could get into the game.

That’s Not Nice

While much of the focus on eliminating potentially serious injuries falls on targeting penalties, there are few plays in football as dangerous as grabbing a facemask and torquing an opponent’s head in the other direction. Players are often ejected from games simply because they’ve committed to a course of action, tried to go low, and the quarterback or wide receiver has slipped or ducked right into them, moving the impact point from the tackler’s shoulder to the helmet. But Purdue’s Cam Allen was never in danger of ejection for grabbing the facemask of Chris Olave, trying to unscrew his head from his body, and not letting go after it became clear that he had a handful of headgear. There is just as much danger on a play like that as there is the garden variety targeting foul.

Be Prepared

I harp on this all the time, but it continues to be a specific OSU problem. Prior to the first play of the Buckeyes’ fourth drive, Ohio State was forced to take a timeout with the play clock winding down. If there is any point in a game when an offense should be sure to have the play call, the right personnel grouping on the field, and plenty of time to line up, look at the defense, and snap the ball, it’s after a change of possessions. That’s something that can be discussed before the other team even snaps the ball to the punter. It didn’t burn the Buckeyes, but it continues to irk me and, therefore, I will continue to gripe about it in this column.

Perfectly Ruined!

Ohio State’s perfect first half was wrecked by officiating when a fairly obvious pass interference prevented Garrett Wilson from having a chance to catch another touchdown pass on the team’s final drive of the second quarter. Up to that point, the Buckeyes had finished every drive with a touchdown, but instead, Ohio State had to send Noah Ruggles onto the field to kick a field goal.

No Justice for Jeremy

A gorgeous, long touchdown pass to Olave was wiped out by a dubious holding call on tight end Jeremy Ruckert, who appeared to make a good play and then finish it off. Television analyst Greg McElroy even jumped to Ruckert’s defense on the broadcast. Wilson scored to cap the drive the right way, invoking the law of “Ball Don’t Lie.” Olave scored later in the game but that might have been a historic touchdown had the earlier one not been denied by a flag. Olave is chasing a school record for career touchdown receptions, and is nearly there, but he had to settle for one touchdown rather than two.


Those are the things that had my ire up on a day that my ire was surprisingly mostly down. After the first quarter, it seemed unlikely that the Boilermakers were going to make a game of it. Ohio State’s offense was on fire, and we saw some nice variation in play calls and use of pre-snap motion in the red zone. The presence of only five sections in this column speaks to how smoothly the Buckeyes took care of business.

Next week, it’s a major B1G East clash between the Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans on Senior Day in the Shoe.

D

Dave Iery

Guest
On a good note and probably a good omen for the Buckeyes future.
The Buckeyes did win their first Coin Toss in 9 games. Keep practicing the coin toss it will continue to improve your game performance.
 
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