What a difference a week makes.
Ohio State started fast Saturday against Purdue and built a commanding lead in the first half. While the offense struck early and often, the defense did its job by silencing the Boilermakers' offense. That equation equaled a 49-0 thumping that quickly got the Buckeyes back on track after seeing their national championship hopes possibly derailed by the Badgers.
"We knew we had to come out and get after them," fullback Zach Boren said. "I don't think we did that as much last week. All the coaches were on us, and we were on ourselves, about coming out and playing hard from the get-go."
It did not take long for Ohio State to exert their will offensively. After Purdue's opening kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Buckeyes good starting position at its own 40-yard line to start their first drive, Ohio State needed only five plays to march 60 yards for its first score. The Buckeyes kept it on the ground, with junior tailback Dan Herron carrying each play and often times running in the direction of Purdue's standout defensive end Ryan Kerrigan. Herron had runs of 17 (which also had 15 yards tacked on at the end because of a facemask penalty), 8, 3 7 and 10 on the drive, the latter of which giving the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead exactly two minutes into the game.
"It was a good feeling," Herron said of the offense's quick start. "We definitely wanted to get out there and get out on top and get some momentum going. I think we did a great job of doing that."
Both teams then traded three-and-outs on offense before another Purdue miscue set up another Buckeye score. A Boilermaker touched a Cody Webster punt, and Ohio State recovered the then-live ball at the Purdue 39. Again, the ground attack led the way. Of the six plays on the drive, five were rushes and all but one was by Herron. His fourth carry of the drive went for a 2-yard touchdown that put Ohio State ahead 14-0 with 6:48 left in the first quarter.
Purdue actually recorded two first downs on its next drive, but Ohio State still forced a punt. The Buckeyes then went on an 11-play, 91-yard drive that ate up 5:19 and stretched from the end of the first quarter into the second. Jordan Hall was the tailback during the drive, and his 1-yard burst over right guard all but ended any chance Purdue had of pulling off a second-consecutive upset win over the Buckeyes.
Ohio State scored 28 points in the second quarter and had a commanding 42-0 lead at halftime. Not to be outdone, the OSU defense stifled Purdue's attack. The Boilermakers had 47 yards of total offense through the first two quarters en route to being shut out for the first time in 2010.
Purdue was playing without three of its offensive starters in quarterback Robert Marve, running back Ralph Bolden and receiver Keith Smith – all out because of ACL injuries – and new starting tailback Dan Dierking also did not play. But that did not take away from the pride felt by the Ohio State defense after the game.
"We stuck to our gameplan we ran all week and went from there," Gant said. "We didn't think about the backups or anything like that. We just played our techniques and our assignments."
Another point of pride for Ohio State came in its ability to generally neutralize Kerrigan, who was a constant fixture in OSU's backfield in the 2009 meeting. Kerrigan had four tackles, including a sack and 2.5 for a loss, but had nowhere near as dominant a day as he did in West Lafayette last season.
In fact, members of the Ohio State offense said they used Kerrigan as a way of determining what they would do offensively. Several players said Purdue blitzed with a cornerback and a linebacker on whatever side of the line Kerrigan was on. Thus, on several plays, Ohio State would either rush the ball where the blitz was coming or throw screen passes to neutralize Kerrigan's speed.
"Every time I got down in my stance I knew were No. 94 was," Boren said. "He's the one they build their defense around. When they were bringing different blitzes, he was the one who tipped them off. We looked to him and knew where he was the whole time."