The Purdue Boilermakers sit at 3-3, knowing how very close they are to being 6-0 on the season, but a different kind of challenge awaits when they host the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes Saturday night. For Purdue, the season started with a 31-27 home loss to Northwestern that was punctuated by Boilermaker turnovers. In Week 2, it was a 20-19 home loss to Eastern Michigan on a last-play field goal that was aided by a Purdue penalty to keep the Eagles' drive alive. And Week 3 brought a 40-37 home loss to Missouri, again on a late field goal. Three losses, by a combined total of eight points, is what separates Purdue from 3-3 and 6-0.
Purdue's three-game winning streak has coincided with the emergence of Boilermakers quarterback David Blough. During the run against Boston College, at Nebraska and at Illinois, Blough has thrown seven touchdowns and just one interception, averaging more than 300 yards passing per game. Blough's play, combined with the running of Boilermakers running back D.J. Knox (540 yards rushing, 6.2 yards per carry, five touchdowns) and the all-purpose play of freshman wide receiver Rondale Moore, make the Boilermakers one of the better offenses in college football in 2018.
Ohio State comes into this ranked second in the country with a perfect 7-0 record. This will mark the first time Ohio State has played at Purdue since the 2013 season. While that 2013 game was a 56-0 rout by the Buckeyes, Ross-Ade Stadium has not been an easy place for the Buckeyes to play, as Purdue came out on the winning side of the ledger against Ohio State in 2004 (24-17), '09 (26-18), and '11 (26-23).
While Purdue's offense ranks second in the Big Ten in total offense at 510 yards per game, it is Ohio State that ranks first, with an average of nearly 557 yards per game. The Buckeyes are led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who is tops in the Big Ten in passing efficiency with 28 touchdowns and only four interceptions, completing 72.3 percent of his passes. Haskins is coming off back-to-back 400-yard games against Indiana and Minnesota.
Ohio State at Purdue
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Ohio State -13.5
Three Things To Watch
1. Ohio State's running game vs. Purdue's run defense
The traditionally strong Ohio State running game has not been effective over the last month of the season, with just 92 rushing yards last week against Minnesota. A significant factor in this development is how opposing teams have stacked the box against the Buckeyes, allowing for Dwayne Haskins to throw for big yardage. Purdue has allowed nearly 147 yards on the ground per game and it will bear watching to see if the Boilermakers employ a similar strategy as other teams have against the Buckeyes.
2. Purdue's Rondale Moore vs. Ohio State's defense
As mentioned earlier, Moore has been one of the dynamic players to emerge within the Big Ten this season. Ohio State's defense has taken on a bend-but-don't-break style, giving up big plays throughout the course of the season. How head coach Urban Meyer and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano elect to defend Moore will bear watching in this primetime game, with several Buckeye defenders nursing injuries.
3. Is Purdue ready with another upset?
The positive momentum has been building for Purdue over the last month. The Boilermakers are the underdog but relish on pulling out big wins against Ohio State, as noted above. While the Buckeyes are undefeated, the notion that this is a trap game has been on the minds of Ohio State fans since this season began. The Purdue fans will be loud and raucous under the lights of Ross-Ade Stadium.
This is the kind of game that will seem more in line with the Big 12, not the traditional Big Ten. Both offenses can score lots of points quickly, with both defenses giving up yards and points. Ohio State is tremendously talented, but the defensive woes that have plagued the Buckeyes since Week 1 of the 2018 season have become magnified over the last month, and Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm will capitalize upon the mismatches that the Boilermakers present to opposing defenses. Purdue springs the upset, and Ohio State goes into their bye week to regroup for the November stretch run.