Coming into today, the Buckeyes were about to embark on a tough three-game stretch that would determine where OSU would be in the postseason. Most fans were concerned, wondering how well OSU would be able to do in these three games.
Count game one as a tremendous success.
Today, the #24 ranked Purdue Boilermakers came into Columbus and got handled by the Ohio State Buckeyes, 35-9. The Buckeyes put on a fine performance on both sides of the ball, racking up 421 total yards on Purdue and holding the Boilermaker offense to 211 yards. Steve Bellisari, Chris Vance, and Jonathan Wells led the way on offense. Bellisari once again put up good numbers, going 14-20 for 263 yards and 3 TDs with 0 INTs. 7 of those passes were completed to Chris Vance, who gained 138 yards receiving with two eye-popping, jaw-dropping one-handed grabs. Wells (above, AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) continues to quietly tally up the yards on the ground, rushing for 101 yards on 21 carries and 1 TD. The Boilermakers, a team that appears to be in a state of flux, could not do much to counter.
Things started off well for OSU right away as the Buckeyes started the opening drive with a 38-yard pass from Bellisari to Vance. The Bucks continued to move the ball after that but stalled at the 20-yard line and had to settle for a 36-yard Mike Nugent field goal. However, things would continue to go OSU's way as Purdue would open the next drive on their own 11, and on the second play of that drive, a bad snap forced Purdue QB Brandon Hance to toss the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety, giving OSU a 5-0 lead. Bam Childress made a nice return on the ensuing kick, giving OSU starting field position at their own 47, and the Bucks continued on a nice drive that was capped off by a 15-yd Wells TD run. The Nugent PAT made it 12-0 OSU.
On the next drive, Purdue didn't seem rattled by the quick OSU start as they moved the ball down the field and came away with a 41-yard Travis Dorsch field goal. Each of the next two drives for each team resulted in a punt, and then later in the second quarter, an OSU drive started at their own 20 was stopped when Purdue DE Akin Ayodele forced a fumble that was recovered by Purdue. The Boilermakers took over on the OSU 18 and scored shortly after on a 2-yard Hance TD run. However, the PAT was missed by Dorsch, and it stayed 12-9.
The score stayed that way until halftime, during which Buckeye fans saw an emotional, teary-eyed Eddie George see his number 27 get retired.
Like previous games, OSU had jumped out to a lead, only to see the opposing team get back in the game. But the third quarter didn't last too long before it became obvious that the Bucks weren't going to give up that lead on this day. Purdue opened the second half with a 3-and-out, and on the next possession, Steve Bellisari hit Michael Jenkins on a short pass that was turned into a 53-yard TD after Jenkins spun to avoid a defender. The PAT was good, making it 19-9. Things continued to go bad as on the next drive, a tipped Hance pass was intercepted by Donnie Nickey and brought back 42 yards to the OSU 32 yard line. However, OSU could not do anything with that opportunity as they faced a fourth down and fumbled the ball back to Purdue when they went for the first down.
The Boilermakers were forced to punt after a 3-and-out, and OSU took over on their own 24 and marched the ball down the field with the help of a spectacular one-handed Vance catch for 31 yards. However, OSU could not get it done as Jonathan Wells fimbled the ball back to Purdue at the Boilermaker 5 yard line. But once again, Purdue could not stand prosperity as right after that, Matt Wilhelm and Kenny Peterson brought Hance down in the end zone, making it 21-9 Buckeyes. The Bucks would take the ensuing kickoff and march down the field again, this time capping off the drive with a Bellisari to Ben Hartsock TD pass. The PAT made it 28-9, OSU.
After a couple of turnovers from each team, OSU got into position to score one more time as Derek Ross picked off a Brandon Hance pass and returned it deep inside Purdue territory. Shortly after, Chris Vance made his second highlight-reel catch, a one-handed grab for a TD. The Nuge PAT was good, making it 35-9 OSU, and that's how it would end.
This was a great day for Buckeye fans as the Bucks moved to 6-3 and Eddie George saw his number get retired. There were many good things in today's Buckeye win, starting on offense. The offense once again had a successful day, and this was on one of the top three or four defenses in the Big Ten. Steve Bellisari's passes hit the mark, and the Buckeye wide receivers continue to develop into one of the best tandems in the conference. Chris Vance's name is now known throughout the conference, and if he continues to keep up his acrobatic catches, it won't be long before folks around the country hear his name. Jonathan Wells continues to keep it up on the ground, putting himself in position to end his Buckeye career with a 1,000-yard season. Also, the TEs remained in the action as both Ben Hartsock and Darnell Sanders made key plays today.
On defense, OSU by and large had a successful day. The lone Purdue TD came when the Boilermakers recovered the ball at the OSU 18. Other than that and the Dorsch FG, the Boilermakers had plenty of trouble on offense. The Buckeye D came up with three big INTs and the two big safeties.
But again, the spotlight was shining on the OSU offense. The Buckeye O is coming together and is coming up with more and more big plays. In each of the last three games, OSU has gone over 400 total yards on offense.
The offense will need to keep it up over the next couple of games. After OSU lost to Penn State, some fans were wondering if OSU would make a bowl. After today, we are wondering what bowl OSU will go to. The Bucks are still in competition for the Big Ten crown, but let's continue to take one game at a time. Next week, a good Illinois team comes to the Horseshoe... let's hope OSU will continue to take it to opposing defenses. Go Bucks!