Saturday, Nov. 12
Noon ET, Big Ten Network
Ross-Ade Stadium; West Lafayette, Ind.
Head coach: Danny Hope, 13-20, third year
2010 record: 4-8 (2-6 Big Ten, tied for ninth place)
Series mark: Ohio State leads 38-13-2
School location: West Lafayette, Ind.
Colors: Old Gold and Black
Stadium: Ross-Ade Stadium
Fight song: "Hail Purdue"
Purdue head coach Danny Hope knows his Purdue squad, which has won only four of its first nine games, isn't favored in Saturday's game vs. Ohio State, but being the underdog is fine with the third-year head coach.
"I like that role at times," Hope said. "I'm a competitive person. Being the underdog doesn't deter my belief in winning. We've won a lot of big games over the years that we were underdogs before the game. Once the game starts, all the bets are off, you have to play the game."
One of those games Purdue won as an underdog came two years ago when they posted a 26-18 victory against Ohio State in Ross-Ade Stadium. The Boilermakers, who entered the game at only 1-5 on the year, forced five OSU turnovers and never trailed, opening up a 23-7 lead and holding on for what was a huge upset win against a team that went on to capture a Rose Bowl title.
The Buckeyes hope for similar success this year, and Purdue stands in the way once again. And while the Boilers aren't struggling quite as much as that '09 team, they will enter their home field knowing improvement will be needed to beat the Buckeyes after consecutive blowout losses at Michigan and Wisconsin.
"We're still getting better as a football team," Hope said. "We can still get better as a football team. We can go out and execute better and that would eliminate more big plays from happening on Saturday."
Hope also said he doesn't expect the consecutive losses to dull his team's spirit heading into the OSU game.
"We've dealt with (adversity) many times with things not going our way," he said. "That's what I like about our players and our team. That's why I'm always optimistic that we're getting better, have a chance to win on Saturdays. They show up and get it on.
"At times we've been a little shorthanded personnel-wise. At times we've made some mistakes. I like the way they practice, get up on Saturdays taking the field believing we can win. I don't have any question about our team rebounding or wanting to win. I'm excited about that part of it."
Offense In A Nutshell
Overall, the Boilermakers are eighth in the Big Ten in scoring with 25.9 points per game. The team has struggled on third down but hasn't turned the ball over much, losing just 11 turnovers in nine games. The team isn't quite the same basketball-on-grass offense as the Joe Tiller days as a Purdue quarterback hasn't thrown fro 300-plus yards since Joey Elliott in 2009.
The team currently uses a two-quarterback system, though junior Caleb Terbush has started every game on the year. On the season, he is 122 of 199 (61.3 percent) for 1,386 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. He's also run the ball out of the team's option sets 61 times for 183 yards and a touchdown. The second quarterback is Robert Marve, a Miami transfer who missed the first three games as he continued to rehab a knee injury suffered early last season. Since returning, Marve is 35 for 65 (53.8 percent) for 344 yards, three touchdowns and two picks.
Purdue is a team that likes to get things done with depth in all facets of its offense, and that is driven home by the fact that 17 different players have a carry on the season and nine have reached double digits in rushes. In fact, the Boilers haven't had a player with 20 carries in a game since Jaycen Taylor in 2009. Ralph Bolden leads the way, as the junior has a team-best 102 carries for 469 yards and three touchdowns. Classmate Akeem Shavers has added 73 rushes for 351 yards and five touchdowns, while true freshman Akeem Hunt has 18 carries for 141 yards and two scores. Fullback Reggie Pegram has added 13 carries for 69 yards, while senior Jared Crank has 15 carries for 52 yards and two catches, both of which have gone for short touchdowns, on the season.
"We think we have to be able to establish the running game," Hope said. "The running game is one of the reasons why we haven't turned the ball over. We have tough running backs. They do a great job of hanging on to the football. Establishing a running game is huge for our football team."
Converted quarterback Justin Siller has taken to the wide receiver spot, and the big senior has caught 34 passes for 342 yards and a score. Antavian Edison is the team's best big-play option and has 17 straight games with a catch, has caught 26 balls for 367 yards and two scores, and he also has a touchdown among his 18 carries. Sophomore O.J. Ross adds in 29 grabs, 326 yards and a team-high three touchdowns, while senior Waynelle Gravesande and sophomore Gary Bush (6-0, 175) each have 14 grabs. Crosby Wright has taken over as the tight end in his junior year and has 12 catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
Left tackle Dennis Kelly is a co-captain in his senior year and has 33 consecutive starts, not bad for a player the team originally considered grayshirting. Junior left guard Peters Drey is out with injury, leaving senior James Shepherd and recent defensive line convert Kevin Pamphile to fill his shoes. Junior center Rich Schmeig from Cincinnati Oak Hills is in his first year as a starter, while converted defensive tackle Nick Mondek is in his second year of starting at right guard. Sophomore Trevor Foy has started the last five games at right tackle after taking over for classmate Justin Kitchens.
QB 19 Caleb TerBush, 6-5, 225
RB 23 Ralph Bolden, 5-9, 190
WR 4 O.J. Ross, 5-10, 192
WR 13 Antavian Edison, 5-11, 175
WR 2 Justin Siller, 6-4, 215
TE 86 Gabe Holmes, 6-5, 247
LT 68 Dennis Kelly, 6-8, 306
LG 63 James Shepherd, 6-7, 315
C 76 Rich Schmeig, 6-3, 320
RG 62 Nick Mondek, 6-5, 307
RT 78 Trevor Foy, 6-7, 287
K 37 Carson Wiggs, 6-0, 192
KR 8 Raheem Mostert, 5-11, 180
Defense In A Nutshell
Purdue will face a stiff challenge with Ohio State's running game, as the Boilermakers allowed more than 330 yards rushing in losses the past two weeks to Michigan and Wisconsin. The team's rushing defense places 10th in the Big Ten and 92nd in the country with 191.1 yards allowed per game, while the team's scoring defense is ninth with 26.4 points allowed.
Up front, the best player is junior Kawann Short, a second-team All-Big Ten choice last year who is listed at nose guard but has been playing some end of late. Short has 33 consecutive starts and has been named a co-captain and has amassed 42 tackles, 12½ tackles for loss, 3½ sacks, a forced fumble, a recovered fumble and two blocked kicks. Sophomores Brandon Taylor and Bruce Gaston have also started at tackle, while senior Gerald Gooden – who has 34 career starts – has two sacks at end. Ryan Russell is a redshirt freshman coming off an ankle injury but adds size at end and has 23 tackles.
Linebacker Joe Holland, a four-year starter, is also a co-captain and is second on the team with 67 tackles, has four TFL and has made an interception.
"He does a great job of getting it, understanding the game plan of why you're lined up, what you're lined up in, what you're trying to get done from a big picture standpoint," Hope said. "He does a great job of understanding the total execution part of the defense. I've been really pleased with his performance this year as a football player."
Junior Dwayne Beckford has six straight starts and leads the team with 70 tackles and has added four TFL, 1½ sacks and an interception. The third starter at linebacker is sophomore Will Lucas, who has 51 stops, 4½ tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. The top reserve is senior Chris Carlino, a former starter and current special teams demon who has 21 tackles.
Cornerback Ricardo Allen is already one of the top defensive backs in the conference. A second-team All-Big Ten choice last season, Allen has three picks during his sophomore season to double his career total and has added 49 tackles and a forced fumble. He has returned three career interceptions for touchdowns.
Junior Josh Johnson starts on the other side and has 40 tackles, six pass breakups and an interception. Senior free safety Albert Evans has started all nine games, picking up 55 tackles and an interception. Three different players have started at strong safety, though fifth-year senior Logan Link has taken over the role of late. A former walk-on from West Liberty (Ohio) Salem, Link has made 40 tackles on the season. Junior Max Charlot has added 30 stops, while redshirt freshman Landon Feitcher has 19 tackles.
DE 2 Gerald Gooden, 6-4, 235
NG 93 Kawann Short, 6-3, 310
DT 90 Bruce Gaston, 6-2, 303
DE 99 Ryan Russell, 6-5, 264
LB 30 Joe Holland, 6-1, 229
LB 3 Dwayne Beckford, 6-1, 228
LB 45 Will Lucas, 5-11, 226
CB 21 Ricardo Allen, 5-9, 176
SS 35 Logan Link, 6-1, 208
FS 32 Albert Evans, 6-0, 208
CB 28 Josh Johnson, 5-11, 195
P 42 Cody Webster, 6-1, 205
PR 3 Waynelle Gravesande, 6-0, 192
Five Fast Facts
1. The Boilermakers have dedicated the season to running back Sean Matti, who was due to be a fifth-year senior this year before drowning July 3. The team is honoring Matti with a decal with his No. 22 on its helmets.
2. Sophomore quarterback Rob Henry was named a team co-captain and was expected to be Purdue's starter this year before tearing his right ACL in late August. Henry started seven games a season ago.
3. Purdue leads the Big Ten in both net punting (40.0 yards per kick) as well as kickoff return average (27.3 yards). Raheem Mostert averages 31.6 yards per return. Purdue is also next to last in the country in kickoff return defense.
4. Holland became the third player in Purdue history to be awarded an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship by the National Football Foundation earlier this year. He joins Brees (2000) and Ken Loushin (1979). Holland boasts a 3.96 cumulative GPA and plans on going to dental school after concluding his football career.
5. TerBush's opening-day start made him the fifth quarterback to start a game in a 12-month span. He joined Marve, Henry, Siller and Sean Robinson.
Last Time Out
One week after a demoralizing loss at Wisconsin, Ohio State bounced back in a big way last Oct. 23 with a 49-0 homecoming victory over Purdue. The game was virtually over at halftime after the Buckeyes had rolled to a 42-0 lead against a Boilermaker team that offered very little in the way of resistance.
Junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns – all in that explosive first half – while the OSU offense piled up 489 total yards. Purdue finished with 118, but the Boilermakers didn't crack the century mark until late in the fourth quarter.
The shutout was the first for the Buckeyes since 2009's 45-0 win over New Mexico State, and was a bit surprising given that Purdue entered the game on a three-game Big Ten winning streak that began last season and a five-game stretch during which the Boilermakers had rushed for 200 or more yards.
Purdue entered the contest averaging 231.0 rushing yards in its two conference games and 202.3 yards overall. It managed only 30 against the Buckeyes.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Rob Henry, who was coming off a career performance in his team's 28-17 victory the week before over Minnesota, was held in check by the Buckeyes. Henry completed only 9 of 18 passes for 58 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, and he was limited to 26 yards on five carries. That modest total still managed to lead all Purdue rushers.
Dan Herron was Ohio State's leading rusher with 74 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries as the Buckeyes totaled 184 yards on the ground.
Four different Buckeyes caught touchdown passes in the game. Wideouts Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey had four catches each for 86 and 84 yards, respectively. They also had a touchdown catch each as did freshman wideout Corey "Philly" Brown and junior tight end Spencer Smith.
"Our guys came out ready to go and before we knew it, it was 7-0," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said after the game. "Then our defense took over from there and got the shutout."
Tressel was asked if the blowout win was more the result of the 31-18 disappointment at Wisconsin or revenge for the previous year's 26-18 upset loss at Purdue.
"Well, it goes to show you our older kids weren't going to let the younger guys get too disappointed (about last week)," the coach replied. "Of course, we didn't make some of the mistakes we made last week and our opponent didn't make some of the plays they made last week."
Defensively, Ohio State was led by junior linebacker Andrew Sweat, who had eight tackles, including 2½ for loss, and a forced fumble. Senior defensive back Aaron Gant added six tackles, while senior linebacker Brian Rolle and junior defensive end Nathan Williams each had a sack. Seven different OSU defenders logged at least one tackle for loss as the Buckeyes had nine TFL in the contest.
Junior safety Logan Link led Purdue with a career-high 13 tackles.
The Buckeyes scored early and often, beginning with a 60-yard drive on their opening possession. Herron accounted for 45 of the yards on five running plays, including an 11-yard touchdown bolt. Senior kicker Devin Barclay added the extra point to make it 7-0 at the 13:05 mark of the first quarter.
OSU got another chance courtesy of a Purdue mistake. A Boilermaker defender was blocked into punt returner Waynelle Gravesande, and then the ball grazed Purdue's Chris Carlino after it hit the ground. That made it a free ball and Hines smothered it at the PU 39.
It took the Buckeyes only six plays to move into the end zone again, getting a 3-yard touchdown run from Herron to make it 14-0 with 6:48 remaining in the first period.
Ohio State's next drive was much longer – 91 yards – but wound up in the end zone nonetheless. Pryor completed three straight passes during the march that accounted for 68 of the yards, and then sophomore Jordan Hall finished things off with a 1-yard touchdown run on the third play of the second quarter.
Barclay's PAT topped off the 11-play march to push Ohio State's lead to 21-0 with 14:25 remaining until halftime.
That's when Pryor took over.
After pitching an interception that ended a potential scoring drive at the 9:10 mark, Pryor threw three touchdowns passes in the final five minutes of the first half. He hit Posey for a 22-yarder at the 4:57 mark, found Sanzenbacher over the middle for a 7-yard score with 1:54 remaining, and then completed a 15-yarder that Brown speared out of the air at the goal line with 36 seconds left.
That score came on the heels of a late first-half interception by Johnson, and gave the Buckeyes a 42-0 cushion at halftime.
By that time, OSU already had an inflated 415-47 advantage in total yardage and led in first downs, 23-3. Pryor was 16 for 21 for 270 yards and the three scores by the break, while Herron already had 76 yards and two TDs on 13 carries.
Following a scoreless third quarter, the Buckeyes stretched their lead with a 67-yard drive that culminated in a 23-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Joe Bauserman to Smith. It was Smith's first career touchdown, and following Barclay's seventh PAT of the afternoon, Ohio State had a 49-0 lead with 7:24 to go in the game.
Bauserman directed a pair of second-half series and completed 2 of 2 passes for 30 yards and a touchdown.
Purdue's best chance to score came on its final possession of the game, but kicker Carson Weems' 56-yard field goal attempt with 24 seconds remaining fell short and to the left.