It's one of the oldest truths in football -- when teams can't hang on to the football, they lose the game. And the Buckeyes proved it once again today.
Ohio State turned the ball over four times against Purdue today, two of which came inside the Purdue 10-yard line and one of which came on a potential game-tying drive, and it killed the chances of a come-from-behind win as Purdue held off OSU for a 24-17 win. Troy Smith was 14-29 for 192 yards and one touchdown, but his three interceptions were turning points in the loss for OSU. Backup quarterback Brandon Kirsch started for Purdue, but starter Kyle Orton, who had been suffering from a hip injury, came off the bench and went 7-for-8 for 54 yards and tossed the game-winning touchdown pass with just over two minutes to play.
For the most part, Ohio State struggled in the first half. The Buckeyes opened the game with possession of the ball but quickly went three-and-out. The Buckeyes punted to Purdue, but after two plays and a Mike Kudla sack, the Boilermakers punted back to Ohio State.
Ted Ginn found running room hard on this play
The next drive saw OSU's only score of the first half. The Buckeyes took over at their own 28 and moved the ball downfield mostly on the ground, opening with a 14-yard run by Troy Smith and a 19-yard run by Ted Ginn. A 12-yard catch by Maurice Hall on a screen pass put OSU in field goal range, and Mike Nugent delivered with a 43-yard field goal to give Ohio State a 3-0 lead.
Purdue bounced back on their next drive. The Boilermakers began on their own 17-yard line and found themselves in a 3rd and 8 situation two plays later, but running back Brandon Jones was able to pick up the first down on a third down run. Later in the drive, Purdue got a 20-yard run from Jones and converted two more third downs -- one of them a 3rd-and-17 -- but the Boilermakers were stopped short of the end zone and had to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Ben Jones to tie the game at 3-3.
Ohio State began to struggle on offense as after a Ryan Hamby dropped pass, an Antonio Pittman 8-yard gain and an incomplete pass, the Buckeyes had to punt back to Purdue. A 53-yard punt from Kyle Turano gave the Boilermakers the ball at their own 22, but Purdue would continue to move the ball on a depleted Buckeye defense. The Boilermakers moved 78 yards on 14 plays -- with four more third down conversions -- and capped the drive when Kirsch hit Kyle Ingraham for a 22-yard touchdown strike, which gave Purdue the lead, 10-3.
OSU began the following possession on their own 24, and after an incompletion, a sack, and a short run by Troy Smith, Kyle Turano punted back to Purdue. A holding call on the punt pushed Purdue back to their own 18, and the Boilermakers could not convert on the possession, punting to OSU after a three-and-out.
Once again, the Buckeyes stalled on offense as two Smith runs and a short pass to Ted Ginn was not enough for Ohio State to gain a first down. Turano again hit a solid punt, this one being 50 yards and giving Purdue possession at their own 15.
The Boilermakers went three-and-out, and after just a 31-yard punt, OSU had their best field position of the game at their own 43-yard line. The offense could not capitalize though, going three-and-out again after two Branden Joe runs and an incompletion.
Purdue started the next possession on their own 25 and looked to be moving in the wrong direction after a 5-yard penalty and a Bobby Carpenter sack put the Boilermakers in a 2nd-and-24 situation. Kirsch was able to move Purdue out of the hole, however, hitting Jerod Void for a 13-yard pass and Taylor Stubblefield for a 17-yard gain on a 3rd-and-12 to give the Boilermakers the first down.
Purdue continued to move the ball through the air as after a 20-yard pass to Dorien Bryant, two passes to Stubblefield and an interference call on Anthony Schlegel, Kirsch and Kyle Ingraham hooked up again, this time from 15-yards out for the second Boilermaker touchdown of the game. The point after from Ben Jones gave the Boilermakers a 17-3 lead.
The Buckeyes had one more chance from their own 25 with under two minutes left, and Troy Smith and the offense took to the air as a 15-yard pass to Ryan Hamby and three passes to Santonio Holmes moved OSU across midfield, but a sack moved OSU out of field goal range, and the Buckeyes had to punt back to Purdue, who ran out the clock to end the half.
Things would continue to slide downhill for Ohio State early in the third quarter. After Purdue started the half with a three-and-out, and a 35-yard punt from Dave Brytus gave OSU the ball at their own 42-yard line, a Troy Smith pass went through the hands of Devon Lyons and landed in the hands of Purdue's George Hall after bouncing off Lyons' helmet. The interception gave Purdue the ball at the Ohio State 47-yard line.
The Buckeye defense held strong though as Purdue was unable to take advantage of the mistake. A third down sack forced Purdue to another three-and-out, and a 30-yard punt from Brytus gave Ohio State the ball at their own 20-yard line.
Ohio State's offense picked up where it left off as after a 1-yard gain by Maurice Hall, a delay of game, a sack, and a short run by Troy Smith, OSU had to punt once again. Another solid punt by Turano, this one sailing 45 yards, gave Purdue the ball at their own 34.
Purdue once again could not move the football as the Buckeyes held the Boilermakers to another three-and-out. Ohio State took over on their own 34-yard line after a 14-yard return by Ted Ginn, and after an incomplete pass, OSU got some momentum as Antonio Pittman took off on a running play for a 20-yard gain. After a 14-yard catch by Lyons on a third down, Santonio Holmes made the catch of the year for Ohio State as Troy Smith lofted a deep pass which was caught by Holmes in the end zone after laying out and bringing the ball in off his fingertips for a touchdown grab. The PAT by Mike Nugent cut the Purdue lead to 17-10.
Smith is picked off in the end zone
Purdue began the following drive on their own 20 and was able to move the ball to around midfield, but OSU's defense forced a punt, this time just a 22-yarder off the foot of Brytus. The Buckeyes kept the momentum going as after a 13-yard run by Smith on a 3rd-and-long, Smith hit Roy Hall for a 42-yard catch and run that gave the Buckeyes position inside the Purdue 20. OSU's fortunes would quickly change though as after an incompletion and a short run by Smith, Purdue defensive back Brian Hickman intercepted a Smith pass just inside the goal line, killing a potential scoring drive for Ohio State.
OSU's defense got the ball right back as defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock picked off a short pass from Brandon Kirsch at around midfield and returned it to the Purdue 36. The Buckeyes got right back inside the 10-yard line after Ted Ginn took a reverse 28 yards, but OSU would turn it over again on a third down play as Antonio Pittman couldn't hold on to a Troy Smith pitch on an option play. Brian Hickman recovered the fumble, killing OSU's scoring chances once again and giving Purdue possession at their own 6-yard line.
Purdue inserted Kyle Orton in the game, but Orton could not jump start the offense as Purdue had to punt after another three-and-out. OSU took over with good field position on the Purdue 43 and began to move backwards after a holding penalty, but the Buckeyes came up with a big play once again as Smith hit Anthony Gonzalez for a 38-yard passing play that once again gave OSU the ball inside Purdue's 10-yard line. Ohio State would not be denied this time as Smith ran the ball in from six yards out for the game-tying touchdown with 3:50 left to play.
3:50 was more than enough for Kyle Orton as he took over on Purdue's 20 and zipped downfield on an 80-yard drive on eight plays in just one minute and 33 seconds. Orton hit tight end Dustin Keller from 14 yards out to seal the drive and put Purdue up 24-17. Orton was 6-6 for 50 yards on the drive.
OSU took over at their own 25-yard line, but the turnover demon would bite the Buckeyes one last time as on the second play of the drive, a Troy Smith pass bounced off Ted Ginn's hands and landed in the hands of Purdue linebacker Stanford Keglar. The Boilermakers ran out the clock from there and took home their sixth win of the season, making them eligible for postseason play and possibly putting themselves ahead of Ohio State in the bowl pecking order.
The Buckeyes seemed to be asleep at the wheel during the first half and the early third quarter, but the young offense was able to stay focused and fight back to tie the game. After the game, OSU head coach Jim Tressel said the Buckeyes made mistakes that couldn't be made to win on the road. He was pleased with the comeback, but he was just as disappointed that the win couldn't be pulled out.
was 14 of 29 for 192 yards
"It's encouraging that they know they can do that. It's discouraging that we didn't finish the job," Tressel said. "I know that's how our guys feel because they're not into moral victories."
Troy Smith had an up-and-down afternoon, but this day will unfortunately be remembered for his three interceptions.
"Troy played hard," Tressel said. "He competed. No one wanted to succeed any more than he did. He had some errors. You can't have those on the road."
Tressel feels Smith will bounce back.
"I'm sure if you go back and study quarterbacks, you'll find all of them had a rocky day now and then," Tressel said. "I know this -- Troy will learn from this because that's the kind of kid he is."
Smith talked after the game about his turnovers.
"We just came up a little short with the decision making on my part," Smith said. "It was ball placement. I should have put the ball in different places, and the ball went through a couple guys' hands as well. Everybody has things that we need to work on."
The thing that stung for Smith was the final result.
"It's not one play," Smith said. "It's that thought when you look at the clock and it's all zeroes in the fourth quarter, and it's a loss. That's always what echoes."
It could easily be argued that at least the final interception was not Smith's fault as a catchable pass bounced off the hands of Ted Ginn.
"Teddy's done a pretty darn good job as a true freshman making plays... I think he started running before he caught that one," Tressel said.
Ginn talked a bit about the play after the game.
"I just took my eye off of it," Ginn said. "They gave us too many opportunities to win the game, and we just hurt ourselves.
OSU ran much of a game in a formation allowed them to throw the ball and run the option. Part of the goal was to utilize the talents of Ginn.
"Yeah, we put that in this week," Ginn said.
OSU was banged up in the secondary as three starters were out. It was expected that safeties Donte Whitner and Nate Salley would not play, but Dustin Fox's absence was a bit of a surprise. Tressel said the players who had to step up played hard.
"Dustin got a little bit banged up -- Wednesday, I think it was," Tressel said. "We thought it might be all right, but late in the year, you never know... I thought those kids played hard... E.J. (Underwood) almost had a pick in front of our bench that (could have turned the tide of the game). The kids fought hard."
Now it's time for The Game. Michigan will be coming into Columbus next week with an unbeaten Big Ten record and will be looking to clinch a Rose Bowl berth.
"The one thing you know for sure going into your last game -- this is your last chance at becoming a great football team," Tressel said. "Every game's important... unfortunately we can't have a win now here."
Purdue coach Joe Tiller was ecstatic over the win that snapped a four-game losing streak and made his team bowl-eligible.
"This was a great team win for us," Tiller said. "We did some good things offensively and we were able to put together some nice drives, and we did some impressive things defensively with the turnovers."
After the game, Bobby Carpenter talked about Purdue's offense. "They had a good quick (passing) game," Carpenter said. "They work the sideline well, then they threw some short dumps over the middle and it was tough to stop."... Quinn Pitcock came up big with his interception, a rarity for a defensive tackle. "It happened so quick I was kind of shocked," Pitcock said. "I got hit from behind, so I wasn't able to turn it."... Purdue held the ball for 35 minutes and 46 seconds, while OSU's time of possession was 24:14... Purdue was 9 of 20 on third down conversions to OSU's 5-15... Troy Smith carried the ball 16 times for 62 yards. Ted Ginn carried twice for 47 yards... Santonio Holmes caught four passes for 49 yards. For Purdue, Taylor Stubblefield caught 10 passes for 76 yards, while Kyle Ingraham had 8 for 72 and two touchdowns... On defense, A.J. Hawk led with 14 tackles while Anthony Schlegel had 12... OSU had 338 total yards to Purdue's 384... The win was Tiller's 100th victory.More Notables
* OSU fell to 11-7 in road games under Tressel. OSU is also 22-9 in Big Ten play under Tressel. This was OSU's third loss in 14 November games during the Tressel era.
* OSU still holds a 35-12-2 edge in the all-time series, including an 11-6 advantage in West Lafayette.
* This game marked the fifth time in the last six meetings that an OSU-Purdue game was decided by a touchdown or less.
* Anthony Gonzalez made his first career start at receiver for OSU.
* OSU played without three-fourths of its starting secondary. Safety Donte Whitner is done for the year with a knee injury, while safety Nate Salley and cornerback Dustin Fox were held out due to injuries. (Fox actually played one play -- a PAT kick -- as an emergency replacement.)
Ashton Youboty breaks up this play
Joe Tiller was more excited to be bowl eligible than to win his 100th
Kyle Orton and Taylor Stubblefield go out winners over OSU
Anthony Schlegel brings down Brandon Jones
Ted Ginn hops free