Kicker Mike Nugent hit 3 of 4 field goal attempts, rebounding from a blocked field goal on the final play of regulation to hit a 36-yard game winner in overtime as the Buckeyes turned back Purdue 16-13 on Saturday. His holder, OSU punter B.J. Sander, also came through as seven of his 10 punts landed inside the Purdue 20-yard line, helping the Buckeyes win the field position battle in what became a veritable pitcher's duel.
"I think Coach Tressel does a good job of focusing on special teams," Nugent said. "We work on them all the time in practice."
Nugent did not discouraged when his potential game winning 41-yard field goal was blocked by Purdue's Bobby Iwuchukwu on the final play of regulation.
"I'm not really sure what happened," Nugent said. "I felt like I hit it solid. I talked to the guys and asked them what happened. I'll have to watch the film. I guess the guy was sky high on the jump.
"I wasn't mad at myself. I was just thinking on the next one I might have to get it up a little bit more. I just wanted to make the next one. I thought I would get another opportunity. I didn't want to get down on myself. I was glad to have it."
Tressel added, "From where I was standing, it didn't look like we had perfect mechanics, I may be wrong. When there aren't perfect mechanics, you can maybe not get the ball up as much as you need to get it up. Their jumper got it."
For Nugent to come back from that miss and help deliver the win, spoke volumes, Tressel said.
"Mike Nugent is a special guy," Tressel said. "We asked him to come through for us many times and he lined up there today and banged home a 52-yarder, which was huge. Then he lined up in overtime and nailed it through and put the heat on Purdue, so Mike comes through for us."
Nugent said he knew the game could come down to a late kick after he and Purdue's Ben Jones -- 20 of 23 on field goals coming into the game -- each made two kicks in a 6-6 first half.
"It kind of felt like it when it was 6-6 at halftime," said Nugent, who improved his totals to 16 of 19 on the season. "There were already four field goals and it just seemed like it would come down to that. Both defenses were playing well so I thought it might come down to a kick."
Nugent said he has grown accustomed to Ohio Stadium crowds chanting "Noooge!" when he comes on the field.
"If there is anything that calms me down it's the crowd," he said. "I listen to my chant when I go out there. I listen to it and know the crowd is there and they're ready. That calms me down."
OSU got the ball first in overtime and, after failing to get a first down, Nugent came on to attempt his 36-yarder.
"I got up there and thought, `This is no different than kicking an 18-yarder,' " he said. "I went out there thinking we just need to get this and put the pressure on them."
Amazingly, Sander told reporters that the made kick was also at least tipped by the Boilermakers before splitting the uprights.
"Yeah, the last field goal was tipped," Sander said. "I think it was No. 59 (Stanford Kegler). He got a piece of it. But Nuge is a great kicker and he put it through."
Even though the kick stood up for the winning points, Nugent said he is not considering it a game winner, per se.
"Can't count because I didn't get it (at the end of regulation)," he said. "Hopefully, I'll never have to attempt any. (The last one) didn‘t count because it wasn‘t the last play."
Nugent said these nail biting wins are good for building character.
"I think it's a good thing we have the experience with it," he said. "I think people are really relaxed. If we know what we can do, we should come out on top. I think Coach Tressel does a good job of keeping everybody calm, himself and the coaches."
Purdue did get a first down in its overtime possession. But when its drive stalled, Jones came on to try a 36-yarder which would have sent the game to a second overtime. The ball was tipped slightly by OSU leaper Dustin Fox and ended up curving wide left by as little as two feet, touching off a massive celebration at the Horseshoe.
"I got a piece of it," Fox said. "Sometimes, just getting a finger or two on it can change the rotation. I'm not sure what happened there."
Nugent was happy to have the win, but he felt bad for his counterpart Jones.
"I think that's just unbelievably tough," Nugent said. "I wish I could say I've been in that situation. I've never been in a situation to tie it up. If I could ever talk with him, I'd just tell him don't even worry about it. I think that was his fifth miss of the season. He was having a great year."
Jones met with the media afterwards to discuss the kick.
"It is always disappointing not to be able to come through for the team," he said. "I just slipped a little bit on the first field goal (a short miss in the third quarter), but both misses are on me. There was nothing wrong with the snaps on either of the field goal (attempts). On the last field goal the snap was good, the hold was good and I just pulled it to the left."
Sander's huge day in punting -- he averaged a modest 41.3 yards per punt, but routinely pinned the Boilermakers back -- did not go unnoticed.
"We always talk about the most important play in football is the punt and obviously it showed up today," said defensive end Will Smith. "B.J. had an outstanding day. He punted the ball and gave us good field position, so they didn't have a short way to go down the field. I think it helped tremendously."
Nugent was just glad he was able to come through and send the team's 26 seniors out as winners in their final game at Ohio Stadium.
"Seeing the looks on the seniors' faces -- B.J. was crying his eyes out. I was just really glad we could come out of here with the win. I‘ll be in that situation next year," Nugent said.