The Boilermakers entered the game with a 1-5 record and winless in three Big Ten games, but none of that mattered against the Buckeyes. Purdue beat a ranked team for the first time since beating No. 10 Iowa in 2003 and Ohio State had its 17-game conference road streak come to an unceremonious end.
"I've been real proud of this team all season," Purdue first-year head coach Danny Hope said. "They've come out every game swinging hard. We talked all week about it and we believed we could do it. We just had to cut down on turnovers and do some small things better. We played hard and got it done today."
It was not a pretty performance for the Buckeyes. The first half was particularly ugly. Sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor lost a fumble, senior punt returner Ray Small muffed a punt and a Brandon Saine game-changing touchdown was called back because of a holding penalty to junior offensive guard Bryant Browning. Pryor's miscue, coming on the game's second play from scrimmage, set the tone for the upset. Pryor had a day he would like to forget. Including the lost fumble, he committed four turnovers. In the third quarter alone, he threw two interceptions and looked lost on the field.
Even with his offensive leader struggling, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said he never thought of lifting him in place of backup Joe Bauserman.
"I didn't think he was rattled and I didn't consider sitting him," Tressel said. "We just weren't executing, and at the beginning of the game, we weren't protecting the quarterback.
"Ohio State lost – the players, the coaches. We don't do that. I know that's what you'd like to write but Ohio State lost. We'll go back and evaluate every play and try to get better."
The day had an unusual feel from the start. The stadium had several pockets of empty seats at kickoff despite pleasant weather. Things only got weirder when Pryor was sacked by Purdue's standout defense end Ryan Kerrigan, who also forced Pryor to fumble the ball. Purdue recovered and turned the mistake into points on a 32-yard field goal by sophomore Carson Wiggs at the 12:47 mark of the first quarter.
Ohio State answered with its best drive of the day, one capped by a 6-yard touchdown run by Pryor and was set up by two big plays by Saine. He had a 20-yard rushing gain and caught a 40-yard pass from Pryor during the march.
The Buckeyes looked primed to take command of the game when Purdue tailback Ralph Bolden lost a fumble at the PU 45-yard line on the ensuing drive. However, Ohio State was unable to do anything with the football and was forced to punt. Purdue missed a 52-yard field goal on its next possession, and the Buckeyes again appeared to have another change to take control when the Boilermakers appeared to have turned the ball over again on their next drive. Junior defensive lineman Thaddeus Gibson recovered a fumble, but officials ruled the forward progress of Purdue receiver Keith Carlos had been stopped before OSU senior safety Coleman pried the ball loose.
Purdue took advantage of its good fortune and got points out of the drive. Wiggs made a 27-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-6 with 8:55 left before halftime.
Yet again, Ohio State had chance to take back the momentum but was unable to do so. Browning's holding penalty negated a touchdown, and on the very next play, Kerrigan again sacked Pryor and forced a fumble that Kerrigan recovered himself.
Chekwa intercepted a halfback option pass by Purdue running back Dan Dierking with 51 seconds left before the half, but Ohio State was held to a three-and-out. That allowed Purdue enough time to drive the ball far enough for Wiggs to make a 55-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter, giving Purdue its first lead at 9-7 and all the momentum heading into the second half.
The Boilermakers took command after halftime. As Ross-Ade Stadium started to fill up with late arrivers, Purdue took the second-half kickoff and marched 67 yards in eight plays for its first touchdown. Purdue quarterback Joey Elliott capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Valentin that gave the Boilermakers a 16-7 lead with 10:58 left in the third. Less than three minutes later, Pryor threw an interception to PU cornerback Brandon King.
Ohio State dodged that bullet when Torrence intercepted an Elliot pass two plays later, but Pryor gave it right back three plays later when King intercepted another pass. This time, Purdue cashed in with a touchdown. Elliott found Valentin again, this time on a 23-yard TD pass that extended the lead to 23-7 with 3:35 left in the third quarter.
Ohio State answered on its first drive of the fourth quarter with a 24-yard field goal by Aaron Pettrey to cut the deficit to 23-10. It was a disappointing result after the Buckeyes had a first-and-goal at the Purdue 3 and could not reach the end zone.
Wiggs answered Pettrey with a 49-yard field goal to push the lead to 26-10 before Ohio State mounted a furious comeback attempt. Ohio State drove 71 yards on nine plays, capped with a 25-yard touchdown reception by DeVier Posey from Pryor. The OSU quarterback then added a two-point conversion drive to make it 26-18 with 7:14 remaining.
After the Ohio State defense held, the Buckeyes had one last chance. The offense took over at the OSU 39 with 5:04 remaining. Pryor led the team to the Purdue 29 before being stopped on downs.
In a fitting cap to a bad day, Ohio State appeared to have one more chance on offense when Purdue appeared to have been stopped on a third-and-9 play with two minutes remaining. Unfortunately for OSU, senior defensive lineman Doug Worthington was flagged for a facemask penalty when he stopped Valentin for no gain on a reception. The result was an automatic first down, and the Boilermakers were able to run out the rest of the clock.
The final stat sheet told the story. Not only did the Buckeyes commit five turnovers, but they were outgained 361-287. That number was even more lopsided before a frantic fourth-quarter rally attempt. Through the first three quarters, Ohio State had only 110 yards and four first downs.
Purdue also held the ball for just over 36 minutes to a little less than 24 for Ohio State.
Pryor completed 17 of 31 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown with two picks. He also ran 21 times for 34 yards and a score. The only other ball carrier for OSU was Saine, who rushed for 32 yards on seven carries.
Elliott outplayed Pryor, completing 31 of 50 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.