Gameday+ | Keys to the Ohio State-Purdue game
Ohio State has struggled in short-yardage situations. Purdue is allowing opponents to convert only 29 percent of their third downs. Even with a potent passing game, the Buckeyes will need to make third downs manageable, especially on the road with crowd noise a factor. On the other side of the ball, Purdue has been masterful on third-and-short. The Boilermakers have converted all 13 third-and-1s they’ve faced. The Buckeyes will need to make some key stops in those situations.
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Prevent big plays
Ohio State and Purdue are adept at creating explosive plays on offense, and there are likely to be a bunch of them at Ross-Ade Stadium. Purdue’s pass defense has been shaky at times, though it has improved lately. Still, the Buckeyes should be able to get their share of chunk plays. The key will be limiting them by Purdue. David Blough and Rondale Moore are one of the Big Ten’s most dynamic pass-catch combinations, and Purdue has other playmakers as well. With cornerback Damon Arnette’s status unclear, the Buckeyes will have to eliminate the breakdowns that have allowed big plays against them all year.
Find the run game
The Buckeyes are averaging only 3.1 yards per carry in their last three games. That’s almost unheard of for an Ohio State team, especially one with running backs as talented as J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. Sure, Dwayne Haskins Jr. is a passer and not an adept runner, but that shouldn’t keep the Buckeyes from having a dependable attack on the ground. Ohio State’s offensive line has regressed after a strong start. It needs to find its groove again, starting with right tackle Isaiah Prince, who struggled mightily against Minnesota’s Carter Coughlin last week.
Nick Bosa is gone and he’s not coming back. A player like Bosa is irreplaceable, but the Buckeyes pride themselves on their depth on the defensive line. That line hasn’t provided a consistent pass rush lately. The Buckeyes’ casualty list has extended beyond Bosa. Jonathon Cooper missed the last game, and others are at less than full strength. Somehow, the Buckeyes must find a way to make Blough uncomfortable. Dre’Mont Jones and Chase Young can do that. Others must chip in.