Captain's Corner - Purdue Thoughts

Defense, special teams, and zero offensive turnovers were huge factors in the Buckeye victory.

The magic continues. The Sugar Bowl/National Championship is within striking distance. The outright Big Ten Championship is one game away. The 26 seniors, who by the way already own a national championship ring, leave the Horseshoe undefeated at home the past two years. We climb to 4-0 in overtime. We pick up our third victory of the season without an offensive touchdown. The list goes on. The magic continues.

With the exception of the Fiesta Bowl and the Michigan victory last year, that win over a good Purdue team was as special as they come. Purdue led the Big Ten in offense and defense in 2002, and they returned the large majority of those players that we beat on a fourth down play with 1:36 left in West Lafayette. Purdue wanted to take us down. This was the game they had circled. The success of their season would come down to November 15. The Boilermakers were a legitimate Top 10 team. Many of the things I saw reminded me of our squad. They stayed patient. They were physical. They kept their composure. They had a smart quarterback/field general. They had a defense that could move their feet. It was a great victory for the home team.

OSU did a terrific job defending the pass of Purdue. Orton ended up with 27 completions and zero interceptions, but give our defense credit. The Silver Bullets did not give up the long pass. Purdue will get their completions. Standeford and Stubblefield will get their catches, but keep those catches to short gains. Don't get ripped in the running game. Don't give up a home run over the top of your head. It is tough to beat an athletic, angry OSU defense with those "nickels and dimes". The defense saved the game. While they did give up one touchdown, they also scored one on their own which washed that away. They used more man-to-man coverage than previous games. They continued the trend from last week with 6 defensive backs in for many of the plays. Dantonio is amazing. He has some very talented football players, but much of that victory belongs to him.

The brightest spot offensively was the lack of turnovers. Zero touchdowns is scary. 351 yards is okay. Zero turnovers is awesome.

BJ Sander's 413 yards punting made a big difference. He averaged 41.3 yards and boomed one kick 56. His hang time was unbelievable once again. What made his performance special though was the finesse he showed us. Seven punts inside the 20. Five inside the 10. He had second half punts downed at the 5, 5, 8, and 8. That changed Tiller's play-calling. That changed the volume inside the Horseshoe. That changed the BCS title picture.

No disrespect to those that call the Army/Navy game the best rivalry in college sports, but OSU/Michigan is as good as it gets. The charm of the 2003 Buckeyes against the flash of the 2003 Wolverines. Both teams have firepower. Both teams have swagger. Both teams are very well coached. Michigan has shown tremendous upside against Notre Dame, Purdue, Northwestern, etc. We have shown tremendous grit against NC State, BG, Penn State, etc. Michigan is without question a Top 5 team. They are definitely the best team we've played all season. Navarre can put the football anywhere on the football field. There is not a throw he cannot make. He has some nice targets. Chris Perry is tearing up the stat sheets. The Wolverine defense has shown the ability to "make plays".

What is the significance of Krenzel, Smith, Gamble, Hawk, Jenkins, Nugent, Stepanovich, Hartsock, Scott, Anderson, Allen and a host of other OSU players? The significance is that I would not trade them for a single player on Michigan's team. Yes, U of M has a great team, but we are the defending National Champions that Michigan has to go through. We have not been a great road team, but we can win in Ann Arbor. It is called the "Big House". It is not called the "Loud House." Our focus will be off the charts and we can handle the adversity the Michigan fans will create. We need to play like National Champions to win. We need to play like a senior-dominated team. We need to play great defense and special teams. We need to avoid turnovers. OSU has done those things all season long. If we sprinkle in some big offensive plays, we will be celebrating late Saturday afternoon. Like I say before every game…may the best team win.

Buckeye Leaves…

Alex Stepanovich - Played on one leg. I hope Geiger has a big athletic training budget because I think they used all the athletic tape on Alex's leg.

Dustin Fox - 10 tackles and he broke up four passes.

Will Smith - Maybe the best I've ever seen him play. He was all over the field. If he doesn't rack up major post-season honors/awards, the system is flawed. His leadership in the huddle and on the sidelines is amazing.


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