Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette remained a house of horrors for the Buckeyes, who watched their Big Ten title hopes likely go up in flame in a 26-23 overtime loss to the Boilermakers. It was Ohio State's second straight loss at Purdue and the fourth in the last six trips to Northwest Indiana.
This one was especially tough to take. It was much like the 2009 edition of the game. The then-No. 7 Buckeyes entered that contest with conference title hopes, and the Boilermakers played the spoiler by upsetting OSU 23-18.
The same thing happened again on Saturday. The Buckeyes might not have been as successful as their '09 version – this team was unranked and had already lost two Big Ten games – but conference championship hopes remained. Ohio State entered the weekend two games behind Leaders Division-leading Penn State but had to feel good about their chances of making the inaugural conference title game Dec. 3 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis with PSU facing a difficult last three games of the season and OSU still yet to face the Nittany Lions head-to-head.
The loss to Purdue not only took the opportunity to control their own destiny out of the Buckeyes' hands but likely dealt a final blow to OSU's hopes of earning a seventh straight Big Ten title.
The defeat left the somber Buckeyes with questions and few answers on Saturday.
"This is a hard one to take," senior center Michael Brewster said.
There were plenty of things to point to in the loss. The offense gained only 97 yards in the first half en route to a 17-7 deficit. The defense saw its tackling difficulties rear its ugly head and again failed to capitalize on a handful of opportunities to force Boilermaker turnovers.
The special teams were guilty of a major miscue, one Buckeye fans won't soon forget. OSU quarterback Braxton Miller completed a highlight-reel-worthy touchdown pass to Jordan Hall on a fourth-down play from the PU 13-yard line with 0:55 remaining, tying the game at 20-20. Then on the ensuing extra point, one that would have possibly given the Buckeyes the win, Purdue's Bruce Gaston slipped between OSU blockers Marcus Hall and Corey Linsley and blocked Drew Basil's kick.
That play eventually sent the game to overtime. Basil kicked a 33-yard field goal on a fourth-and-1 play on Ohio State's offensive possession, but Purdue earned the win with a 1-yard TD on a quarterback sneak by Robert Marve.
Several of the Buckeyes said after the game that the loss can't be pinned on one unit or on one particular play.
"You can't blame (the loss) on the extra point," freshman defensive lineman Michael Bennett said. "It wouldn't have been down to an extra point if they didn't score those 20 points before. There are plays throughout the entire game that decided the game. You can't put it on the extra point or the (final) goal-line stand.
"The whole game is where we need to tighten up."
Brewster called the blocked punt "something we can't let happen" and something that "stinks," but echoed Bennett's take.
"No one is going to point a finger at anybody," Brewster said. "There's plenty of different opportunities in the game where we could have done better."
Despite the disappointment, several of the players said they were not going to give up on making the most of the rest of the 2011 season.
"(This) doesn't feel too great, but I'm sure tomorrow I'm going to pop up and we're going to go hit the weights," sophomore offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said. "We're going to watch the film and we have nowhere to go but up. It's just time to get better. We've still got two Big Ten games we've got to win."
Added Bennett: "Whatever happens happens with the Big Ten title. If we get a chance, we'll definitely make the most of it, but if we don't it's unfortunate for the rest of the teams on our schedule."