12 noon EST - Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN
Coverage by ABC - Brent Musburger (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (analysis), Jack Arute (sidelines)
Coverage Map (.pdf file) (States seeing game will be Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, most of Pennsylvania, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, most of Kentucky, most of West Virginia, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, most of Missouri and Arkansas, NW Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, extreme SE California, NE Nevada, most of Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Southern Idaho, extreme SW Oregon)
The Buckeyes are heading down the homestretch and are trying to stay unbeaten to make a run at the Fiesta Bowl. Standing in their way this week are the 4-5 Purdue Boilermakers. Don't let the record fool you though; this is not going to be an easy game. Purdue's five losses have come by a total of 22 points, and they came quite close to beating Iowa.
The Boilermakers are known for their spread offense (although in their last game (vs. Northwestern), they ran the ball 69 times for 407 yards -- both records under Tiller) and the ability to move the ball up and down the field, but they may have some issues in the quarterback department. Brandon Kirsch, a 6-3, 203 freshman who took over the starting job after sophomore Kyle Orton was ineffective, suffered a cracked bone in his hand during an off-the-field incident after the Northwestern game, and his status is seemingly up in the air for the OSU game. He has shown improvement, but there's been no word on whether or not he'll play. Orton has experience though; he has 1592 yards passing this year and 10 TDs on 126-223 passing with 6 INTs (Kirsch is 55-92 for 673 yards with 5 TDs and 1 INT).
Purdue's running back for what seemed like the last decade has been Montrell Lowe, and he returned for his senior season this year, but the man who has taken control has been junior Joey Harris (5-11, 212), who has rushed for 854 yards on 173 carries and 6 TDs. His back-up, freshman Brandon Jones, has rushed for 402 yards on 75 carries and 1 TD. At wide receiver, the leader in receptions is sophomore Taylor Stubblefield with 49, but the man who has the biggest overall numbers is junior John Standeford (6-4, 202) as he has 48 catches for 937 yards and 9 TDs. He'll be the primary threat out of the receivers. The Boilermakers will also throw to tight end Mike Rhinehart (So., 6-6, 263, 15 catches for 157 yards) although he isn't the weapon that Tim Stratton was. Ray Williams (Fr, 6-2, 176) is listed as the other receiver. The offensive line is experienced; senior Pete Lougheed (6-5, 299) and sophomore Kelly Butler (6-8, 299) are the left and right tackles, junior Nick Hardwick (6-4, 295) and Ohioan Rob Turner (Sr, 6-4, 299) are the left and right guards, and another Ohioan, Gene Mruczkowski, is the center (Sr, 6-2, 299). They definitely miss Travis Dorsch at kicker; junior Berin Lacevic is only 3-10 on the year in the field goal kicking department.
On defense, Purdue has some solid players in each area. Up front, they are led by junior DE Shaun Phillips (6-3, 267), who has four sacks and 40 tackles on the year. The other end, junior Kevin Nesfield (6-3, 255) has 3.5 sacks and 8 TFL. The tackles are freshman Brent Grover (6-4, 272) and junior Craig Terrill (6-3, 295), who is a bit banged up with a knee injury. The linebackers are junior Landon Johnson (6-2, 225) at WLB, senior Joe Odom (6-2, 243) at SLB, and junior Niko Koutouvides (6-3, 238) at MLB, who is the team's leading tackler with 92 (along with 10 TFL, 4 sacks). Junior Jacques Reeves (6-1, 191) and Ohioan Antwaun Rogers (6-2, 170) are the corners, and at safety, you'll find highly-touted junior FS Stuart Schweigert (6-3, 215) and senior Ralph Turner (6-2, 220). The defense gives up 22.4 points per game (7th Big Ten), 191.2 yards per game through the air (5th Big Ten), and 197.7 yards per game on the ground (4th Big Ten).
For the Buckeyes, it's another one of those silly spread offense teams... they just need to make the tackles and prevent guys from getting behind them. The offense is averaging 449.3 yards per game and 29.7 points, so it is definitely something to take seriously. Offensively, OSU should be able to move the ball effectively, but this is another game that could fall on the shoulders of the Buckeye defense though. Special teams could also be a huge factor; Purdue's field goal kicking has been the antithesis of Ohio State's as they have been erratic at best in that department. Overall, look for this to be another exciting game. The Boilermakers could be able to hang in this one until the end.
Other numbers and things to think about:
- "Woulda, shoulda, coulda" never counts, but Purdue is certainly one of those teams. As previously mentioned, they lost their five games by a total of 22 points -- Wake Forest by 3, Iowa by 3, Michigan by 2, Illinois by 7 in overtime, and Notre Dame by 7. By many accounts, they should have beat Notre Dame. They had five fumbles and three missed field goals against Wake Forest. They were beating Iowa late, and if not for a Hawkeye TD pass on 4th down late in the fourth quarter, the Boilermakers would have won that one too.
- Joe Tiller is 28-7 at home during his time at Purdue. He is 3-6 against Top 10 opponents and 9-18 against ranked opponents. The last game Purdue played against Ohio State -- the 35-9 game in 2001 -- was the largest margin of defeat since Tiller has been at Purdue.
- Tale of the tape -- Points Per Game: OSU 33.2, Purdue 29.7; First Downs: Purdue 23.0, OSU 18.9; Yards Rushing: Purdue 197.7, OSU 215.4; Rushing Yards Allowed: Purdue 141.8, OSU 79.3; Yards Passing: Purdue 251.7, OSU 183.0; Passing Yards Allowed: Purdue 191.2, OSU 226.3; Total Offense: Purdue 449.3, OSU 398.4; Total Offense Allowed: Purdue 333.0, OSU 305.6; Turnover Margin: Purdue -8, OSU +5.