5 Questions: Purdue at Ohio State

With Ohio State trying to bounce back from a physical loss at Wisconsin, we are looking at Purdue's star defensive end, the Boilermakers' strong running game and suspect passing game, Terrelle Pryor and, of course, special teams.

1. Will Ohio State avoid getting Kerriganned again?

No doubt the Buckeye coaching staff must be hoping the third time is the charm in terms of trying to stop Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan.

Blessed with exceptional size, strength and quickness for a 6-4, 263-pounder, Kerrigan notched a pair of sacks and three tackles for loss against Ohio State in 2008 and stepped up his game with three more sacks and four tackles for loss last season. He also forced two fumbles and recovered one in the upset in West Lafayette.

"He's a very impactful guy," Ohio State left tackle Mike Adams said. "He does a really good job of playing every play as hard as he can. He's got that motor and doesn't stop until the whistle is blown."

2. Can the Buckeyes stop the Purdue running game?

A week after Wisconsin gashed the Buckeyes for a season-high 184 yards last week, here comes a Boilermaker offense averaging 202.3 yards per game on the ground.

Purdue's running game has little in common with Wisconsin's, however, as the Boilermakers do most of their damage from three- and four-receiver shotgun sets.

The loss of quarterback Robert Marve has given way to the new run-heavy approach behind redshirt freshman signal caller Rob Henry, who leads an attack that has rushed for at least 200 yards in five consecutive games.

Missing injured starting weakside linebacker Ross Homan makes this more of a concern than it might be otherwise for Ohio State.

3. What about the Boilermaker passing game?

Henry is a good athlete and a tough runner, but he has not proven he can beat a team with his arm yet. He enters the game barely better than a 50-percent passer (40 for 79) this season, and he has tossed as many interceptions (three) as touchdown passes.

But the youngster from Ocala, Fla., is coming of the best game of his career in terms of both percentage (13 for 20) and yards (163) during a victory over Minnesota a year ago.

The statistics say Ohio State has one of the top pass defenses in the Big Ten, but a week ago run-oriented Wisconsin was able to pick up key yards through the air to help close out the upset.

To make matters worse, the Buckeyes enter the contest with yet another regular (nickel back Christian Bryant) on the shelf with a health problem.

4. Which Terrelle Pryor will show up at Ohio Stadium?

Don't look now, but one week after an erratic performance at Wisconsin, Ohio State's quarterback is looking at a matchup against a Purdue squad gave him and the whole Buckeye offense fits last season.

He was 17 for 31 for 221 yards with four turnovers in West Lafayette a year ago before posting a 14-for-28 night that included 156 yards and an interception in Madison last week.

Will we see one of those guys or the quarterback who could barely do wrong two weeks ago during a 334-yard passing day against Indiana?

5. Will a team make a game-changing play on special teams?

Ohio State took a sucker punch right off the bat last week with a kickoff return for a touchdown, continuing a disturbing trend for that OSU coverage unit.

The Buckeyes also missed a field goal while trying to recover from an early 21-0 deficit, although a 46-yarder was right at the edge of Devin Barclay's range.

Recently the Ohio State-Purdue series has been influenced by special teams.

In 2008, the Buckeyes scored the only touchdown of the game on a blocked punt return, and last year a muffed punt by Ray Small set up a field goal for the Boilermakers.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories