5 Questions: Ohio State at Purdue

While Purdue has won just one of five games so far this season, Ohio State showed a week ago it has plenty to work on. The Buckeyes need to stop the Boilermaker passing game and get their own in gear, among other issues this week raised in Five Questions.

1. Can Ohio State get off to a fast start?

Two years ago, Ohio State went into a more hostile situation with the Boilermakers ranked 23rd and looking forward to feeding off the atmosphere of a prime-time crowd, but the Buckeyes scored two quick touchdowns early in the passing game and hardly looked back.

They controlled the action throughout and won 23-7.

"Yeah that's what you hope for, that you can kind of end the game before it starts, but this Purdue team we're going to play has a really great offense," said Ohio State cornerback Chimdi Chekwa. "I know they're 1-5, but when we watch them on offense, we really don't recognize that. As a defense, we've got to contain their offense."


2. Can the Buckeye defense keep the Boilermaker offense under wraps?

The head coach and some of the offensive sets might be new, but there is something familiar about seeing a Purdue team with a quarterback (Joey Elliott) leading the Big Ten in passing and a receiver near the top (Keith Smith, who is second in receptions and yards receiving) of the charts, too.

To add balance, Purdue running back Ralph Bolden is second in the Big Ten in rushing yards (99.8) per game, although the Boilermakers as a team are only sixth (145.2) in that category.

The Buckeye defense enters on a roll, however, having allowed two touchdowns in the last four games.


3. Will the Ohio State offensive line bounce back?

After a few weeks of good feelings, the unit took a step back against a good Wisconsin defensive line last week.

Now the Buckeye offensive line will face a Purdue front that has been susceptible to the run, but a group that includes a couple of players who had their way in Columbus last season.

Bouts with the flu and injuries that shuffled the line last week did not help matters, either, but there are signs the line is healthier this week, a good sign for a group that includes three sophomores and a true freshman among the top eight.

"I wouldn't say we're really young, but we're not old by any means, so with a line like that you want to see improvement every day, every week and every game," sophomore center Michael Brewster said. "It's hard sometimes when guys are sick and miss a day of practice and are out of the loop for a day so you've got to get them caught up real fast and do things on the run."


4. Will the Ohio State passing game progress?

Perhaps West Lafayette, the site of some of the bigger passing days in Big Ten history during the Joe Tiller era, is the place sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor and his receivers take another step toward becoming a consistent factor for success in moving the ball.

Since a monster game against Toledo on Sept. 26, Pryor has completed 30 of 54 passes for 335 yards with five touchdowns and a pair of interceptions in three Big Ten games.

While he has sprinkled in a few big plays along the way, the buzz word from the coaching staff regarding Pryor remains consistency.

There seems to be a consensus that his supporting cast must continue to mature as well.


5. Can the Ohio State coaching staff and personnel make quicker adjustments and keep the opposing defense off balance?

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel attributed some of his offense's struggles against

Wisconsin last week to a lack of early success and slowness in figuring out how to counter the Badgers' defensive strategy.

He attributed the need for improvement from the staff and players alike.

With Purdue possessing an offense that can put points on the board, the Buckeyes might not have so much time to wait around to get in gear this week.


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