5 Answers: Ohio State at Purdue

This week we wondered if Purdue would continue to be a different team at home, how each team would run the ball, if the Buckeyes could protect quarterback Braxton Miller and if Ohio State could get off to a better start than the previous game.

1. Will the Boilermakers enjoy a boost at home?

The Boilermakers improved to 5-1 at home (compared to 0-4 on the road), and they had a noticeable bounce in their step not apparent during losses at Michigan and Wisconsin the previous two weeks.

No one was quite sure how to explain it, but the squad did not look like the same one that laid down against the Wolverines and Badgers.

"They just came out fast," Ohio State safety Christian Bryant said. "We knew they were going to come out fast because they play well at home and they had a 92-3 ratio against teams at home in the first quarter. We could have had a little more tempo coming out the gate."

2. Will Ohio State impose its will on the Boilermakers again?

The Buckeyes ran for 163 yards but had to work hard to get them. Thanks in part to lost yardage via five sacks, Ohio State averaged 3.5 yards per carry.

Dan Herron ran 18 times for 62 yards and Jordan Hall added 46 yards on nine carries, but there was never a feeling of control the Buckeyes enjoyed the year before in an easy win at home.

Purdue consistently put an extra man in the box to hinder the Ohio State running game, although the Buckeyes still had some success thanks in part to the ability of the backs to break tackles and make that unaccounted for man miss. Quarterback Braxton Miller's scrambling ability helped, too.

"A lot of teams that we play usually (load the box), try to make us pass," said Hall, who picked up some of his yards from the Wildcat formation as the staff tried multiple ways to move the ball on the ground. "That just shows they respect the run game. We just have to go back on Monday and work on the passing plays and get better."

It was a far cry from last season, when the Buckeyes showed up in their base I formation and overpowered the Boilermakers from start to finish.

3. Can Ohio State shut down the Purdue rushing offense?

The Boilermakers only totaled 129 yards on 42 carries, but they were able to effectively use the running game to keep the Buckeyes off balance all day.

Nine different players carried the ball for Purdue, including four different running backs and three wide receivers. Tailback Ralph Bolden led the way with 80 yards on 18 carries.

"They had a great game plan with a lot of quick throws and things like that kept us off balance and they hit a couple draw plays that were nice," Ohio State defensive lineman Johnny Simon said. "They just had a great game plan, came out and battled us for 60 minutes. Unfortunately today we couldn't get it done."

4. Will the Buckeyes be able to protect Braxton Miller?

This was a resounding no. The freshman quarterback was sacked five times and on the run throughout the game. Sometimes he was able to turn potential negatives into positives because of his agility and ability to break tackles, but he did not have anything resembling a stress-free day.

"He's a great kid," center Michael Brewster said. "It's been a really great joy to see him grow up this year, working with him. He's a great teammate. He's a fighter. He's very humble. I think he's going to have a great career here."

Not all of the sacks and pressures were a result of poor offensive line play. At times Miller held the ball too long either because there were no open receivers or he could not find one.

5. Can the Buckeyes avoid another slow start?

For the second week in a row, Ohio State fell behind 10-0 to a team from the Hoosier State. This time around, Purdue came out looking hot on offense and stoning the Buckeyes at every turn.

Ohio State's offense went three-and-out on its first three drives while the Boilermakers put together scoring drives of 10 and 11 plays to establish their early advantage. The hosts outgained the visitors 136-11 in the first quarter.

No one on the Ohio State side was sure how to explain the early lapses in yet another game.

"We just weren't playing to our potential, me included," nickel back Tyler Moeller said. "We gathered ourselves at halftime and went out there and played a lot better in the second half, but you can't win ball games like that. You have to start fast and finish strong. That's something we didn't do today."

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