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Buckeyes visit Purdue

November 1, 2013
By SETH STASKEY - Buckeye Blitz (sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

If you're looking for a goal sheet inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, there's a good chance you won't find one.

Actually, you may find just one goal.

Urban Meyer - since he was hired in November of 2011 - has made no bones about his goal since he's been a head coach is to have his teams compete for championships in November.

The calendar has flipped to November and the Buckeyes are right in the thick of the chase for many championships. Whether it's the national championship, the Big Ten Championship or just the Leaders Division, the Buckeyes are right in the mix.

"We don't go into the season saying we want to win this one or that one," Meyer said during his weekly press conference. "There are too many variables involved. We want to get to November and then go and try to find a way to win a championship. That's our focus. We are in November, we are competing competing for championships, so you can bet the focus is very intense."

The November push begins Saturday when the Buckeyes take their 8-0 record, 20-game winning streak and No. 4 national ranking to West Lafayette to meet a Purdue squad, which has struggled mightily this season, but always seems to prove to be a thorn in the OSU side.

Judging by the 30.5 point line that Las Vegas has put on the game, there aren't many who believe this game will be as challenging for the Buckeyes as in years past, including last year when Kenny Guiton came off the bench for an injured Braxton Miller and led the Buckeyes to a come-from-behind 29-22 victory.

That was the second straight season the Buckeyes and Boilermakers had gone into overtime. Purdue won at Ross Ade Stadium in 2011.

However, this season has been much different than the last two. Ohio State - outside of at Wisconsin and against Iowa - has been rarely challenged, including last week's 63-14 beatdown of Penn State.

Purdue, meanwhile, is 1-6 overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten.

The Boilermakers haven't won a game since Sept. 7 against Indiana State. They've scored only seven points in their last two games.

The Buckeyes' offense has been playing at a high level all season. It leads the conference with 47.2 points a game. If there's been one question mark, it's been on the defensive side of the ball, but the Buckeyes seem to be coming together there as well.

Against Penn State, the Buckeyes brought more pressure and saw glimpses of what made Noah Spence one of the most sought after defensive ends in the country during his high school career.

"I like disruptive defenses," Meyer said. "Disruptive defenses are very hard to work against. And I thought Luke (Fickell) and Everett (Withers) did a very good job of mixing it in."

All told, the Buckeyes rank 14th in the country in total defense, allowing just 336 yards a game. They're sixth overall against the run, allowing less than 100 yards a game.

Ryan Shazier, who's been named a semifinalist for the Butkus and Bednarik Awards, is the unquestioned leader of the defense. Bradley Roby played one of his best games of the season after he returned to the lineup. Spence, Joey Bossa and Michael Bennett continue to evolve along the defensive front. Curtis Grant, who suffered a minor neck injury against Penn State, has also played well at linebacker.

"There was a time here for a decade of defense that Ohio State was as good as anybody in America," Meyer said. "The last three years it hasn't been that way. But, I see improvement. I think player development is going to be very important. We just have to keep doing what we're doing. We want to be a disruptive defense and we will be."

The Boilermakers' offense has struggled. It ranks 120th in FBS in total offense with 278 yards a game. Of those, 76 are on the ground. The offense is scoring only 13 points a game as head coach Darrell Hazel works to get things going in his first season.

There are going to be some growing pains for Purdue. In its last outing, Purdue had six starters on the offensive side of the ball who were freshmen and two were sophomores.

Included is St. Clairsville product Dan Monteroso, who will make his third consecutive start at wide receiver. He's yet to catch a ball as he rounds back into game form after missing the first several weeks with a broken collarbone he sustained in training camp.

Danny Etling is the Boilermaker quarterback and Akeem Hunt is a talented running back.

The Boilermakers are going to need to score a lot of points because the Buckeyes will get their fair share. The offense is clicking on all cylinders and is starting to play like Meyer had envisioned when he took over.

Miller has really taken his game up a level ever since Guiton was told to warm up at Northwestern. He's accounted for 1,486 yards of offense, including 1,083 passing.

Senior running back Carlos Hyde continues to play like a man possessed. He's ran for 590 yards in five games. He's on pace to gain a 1,000 yards rushing and become the first running back to do that under Meyer.

Wide receivers Philly Brown, Devin Smith and Evan Spencer have gone from what Meyer thought was a liability to one of the strengths. Both as pass catchers and blockers, they've gotten the job done. Throw in the development of frosh speedster Dontre Wilson and it's easy to see why the Bucks are racking up points in bunches.

 
 
 

 

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