OSU at Purdue Preview
West Lafayette, IN - After a disappointing offensive performance, Ohio State has some work to do to contend for another Big Ten title.
The seventh-ranked Buckeyes appear to have some time to get the offense on track with a seemingly easy portion of their schedule beginning Saturday against a scuffling Purdue team trying to avoid losing six straight games for the first time in four years.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made Ohio State -10 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 91% of bets for this game have been placed on Ohio State -14 (View College Football bet percentages).
Ohio State (5-1, 3-0) defeated previously unbeaten Wisconsin 31-13 last Saturday, but the score doesn't indicate how much the Buckeyes struggled to move the ball.
Ohio State was outgained 368-184, had eight first downs to the Badgers' 22 and controlled the ball for just 17:13. Despite generating very little offense, three big returns spelled the difference.
Kurt Coleman and Jermale Hines returned interceptions for touchdowns and Ray Small brought a kickoff back 96 yards for the Buckeyes, who scored one offensive touchdown.
"It was obviously a different type of football game,'' said coach Jim Tressel, who's helped guide the Buckeyes to at least a share of the last four Big Ten titles. "When you get two defensive touchdowns and then a kickoff return touchdown, that's more than you could ever wish for. Those three moments were critical.''
While the Buckeyes and Iowa are the only Big Ten teams without a conference loss, Tressel knows the offense needs to improve. Ohio State ranks 108th of the 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision in passing, 42nd in rushing and 86th in total offense.
Sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor looked out of sync last week, completing just 5 of 13 passes for 87 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while top running back Brandon Saine was limited to 55 yards on 14 carries.
"Where I really think we need to get better preparing from an offensive standpoint is understanding that what we study and prepare for all week long may not be what you're going to get," Tressel said.
The Buckeyes seem to have some time to get their offensive troubles fixed, starting on the road against a Purdue team that is allowing a league-high 30.5 points.
After this game, Ohio State hosts Minnesota and New Mexico State before embarking on a tough stretch run that will likely determine its bowl fate. The Buckeyes end the season traveling to No. 14 Penn State, hosting the 11th-ranked Hawkeyes and visiting rival Michigan.
First, though, the Buckeyes seek their sixth victory in seven games against Purdue (1-5, 0-2), which has lost 19 straight against ranked opponents since beating then-No. 10 Iowa 27-14 in 2003.
While the Boilermakers' defense has struggled, a lot of those problems have stemmed from a turnover-prone offense.
Purdue is tied for the second-most turnovers in the FBS with 20, and it's putting its defense in vulnerable positions.
The Boilermakers lost their fifth in a row with last Saturday's 35-20 defeat at Minnesota, a game they trailed by just one point at the half before a disastrous third quarter. In less than 10 minutes, Purdue had a 7-yard punt, a fumble on a kick return and a blocked field goal, and the Gophers turned all three into touchdowns to pull away.
This performance came one week after the Boilermakers, who haven't lost six consecutive games since Sept. 24-Oct. 29, 2005, turned the ball over six times in a 27-21 loss to Northwestern.
"The turnovers are killing us. Obviously, it's giving points to the opponent and giving life to the opponent," Purdue coach Danny Hope said. "We have these sequence of horrific events every Saturday when we spot our opponents a couple of scores and some life."
Cleaning up these mistakes against Ohio State won't be easy.
The Buckeyes, who are tied for fourth in the FBS with 10 interceptions, will try to put pressure on senior quarterback Joey Elliott, who leads the Big Ten in passing yards with 1,575 but also in interceptions with nine.
Posted: 10/13/09 11:44PM ET