5 Answers: Purdue at Ohio State

Johnathan Hankins

Ohio State's thrilling comeback win over Purdue had plenty of twists, turns and surprises. We take a look at a few of them in this week's edition of Five Answers. It includes a closer look at the OSU defense and more.

1. Can Purdue stop the Ohio State running game?

This matchup swung surprisingly in favor of the underdog. Purdue looked nothing like the defense that allowed 467 yards a week earlier to Wisconsin, and Ohio State came nowhere near matching its back-to-back 300-yard rushing performances.

The main reason for this was the bottling up of the Buckeyes' top weapon, Braxton Miller. The quarterback ran 12 times for 47 yards, most of that coming on a 37-yard burst that ended with him having to be taken off the field by trainers after he was slammed to the turf late in the third quarter. Running back Carlos Hyde ran for 91 yards on 19 carries in what turned out to be a decent but less-effective than expected day for the Buckeye rushing attack.

"They have a heck of a D-line," Ohio State center Corey Linsley said. "(Kawann) Short is a great player. (Bruce Gaston) is a great player. That's the strength of their team, really. I think year in and year out, look at the guys they have in the NFL. That's why they give us trouble."


2. Who will run the show for Purdue?

A week after using three quarterbacks, Purdue head coach Danny Hope went almost the whole way with Caleb Terbush. The senior completed 19 of 30 passes for 230 yards with two touchdowns and a costly interception. He was effective at completing short passes and screens but erratic when going down field. More than one third of his yards came on an 83-yard catch-and-run by running back Akeem Shavers on the first play of the game.

Hope inserted Rob Henry into the game twice, the first resulting in a 9-yard run and the second a disastrous third-down play that lost three yards. With Henry well-known as the best runner of the Boilermakers' quarterback trio, the Buckeyes seemed to have a good idea he would keep the ball in that situation, and they attacked the backfield accordingly.

Senior Robert Marve, who led Purdue to an upset victory of Ohio State last season in relief, did not play.


3. How will the Buckeyes match up with another spread offense?

Overall, Ohio State effectively shut down the Purdue offense, but there were a couple of key breakdowns reminiscent of previous days this season when the Silver Bullets were misfiring more.

Purdue scored on its first play of the game, but the aforementioned 83-yard catch by Shavers was not out of a spread formation. He had lined up at fullback and merely outran middle linebacker Storm Klein in man coverage on a wheel route. The play was well-designed as the cornerback and safety to that side of the field were taken out of the equation by the routes run by the split end and slot man, but it was just a classic I formation play.

The Boilermakers' other offensive touchdown did come out of the spread as TerBush hit Gary Bush on a jailbreak screen and Bush sprinted up the field untouched for 31 yards to give them a 20-14 lead in the latter half of the third quarter.

The Buckeyes righted the ship after that. They did not allow another point, forcing three punts and a turnover on downs. They also bowed their backs on the first possession after the touchdown. In a quick-change situation following an Ohio State fumble that gave Purdue the ball at the OSU 37-yard line, the Buckeyes forced a 34-yard field goal attempt that OSU tackle Johnathan Hankins blocked.

Overall, Purdue gained 347 yards and scored 22 points, both shy of their respective season averages of 387.3 and 32.8. The Buckeyes also bettered their season averages of 400.0 yards and 24.6 points allowed per game.


4. Can Ohio State limit big plays?

The most of the afternoon, the answer was yes, but two failings cost the defense 14 points.

In total, the Buckeyes allowed eight plays of 10 or more yards, including two of more than 20. The Boilermakers' offensive touchdowns came on the latter two.

Ohio State entered the game allowing more than four 20-plus-yard plays per game, so this was another area their performance could be viewed as better than normal, or at least better than what counts as normal for the 2012 campaign so far.

Of course, we did not specify looking only at the defense, and a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was costly as well.


5. Will Kawann Short or Johnathan Hankins have the bigger day?

Both star defensive tackles had their moments in the contest, for better or for worse.

Hankins was credited with nine tackles, and his blocked field goal was crucial as it kept Ohio State's deficit at six points late in the third quarter.

Short had three tackles and recovered a fumble, but he also committed an ugly 15-yard penalty at the end of the first half when he picked up Miller and drove him into the ground on a late hit after the quarterback had gotten off a pass. The personal foul gave Ohio State another chance to take a shot at the end zone on an untimed down, but Miller's Hail Mary throw was intercepted by Purdue cornerback Josh Johnson.

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