PURDUE, which will face the OSU team Saturday, is the Buckeyes' fourth consecutive opponent coming off a bye week.
And, it appears that Boilermakers have been making good use of the time off. Purdue head football coach Darrell Hazell indicated the concentration during the latter part of last week was on the Buckeyes, and "we had our bonus practice this past Sunday which was a very spirited practice."
Purdue starts one of the youngest teams in the nation, and five underclassmen, including four freshmen, started on offense in the game with Michigan State. Three true freshmen started at skill positions.
Hazell said he's "very pleased with our football team's work and preparation. Obviously, we are not where we want to be on the win loss column, but I have no - I'm not disgruntled with our football team on how they have prepared and stayed together through hard times.
"There's a lot of teams that will go in different directions at this point in time and that has not happened."
Boilermaker Danny Etling, a true freshman, was named as starting quarterback during Purdue's first bye week between the Northern Illinois and Nebraska games.
Hazell was asked what he saw out of him during the second bye week and if anything was still being done about the playbook.
"I think the playbook is right where it is. I think he's (Etling) done a good job of preparing and handling what we have in," said the coach. "He studies like crazy. He's going to be a phenomenal player for us.
"Again, he's a guy who can make all the throws and plays to get himself out of trouble. He made significant strides from his first game to his second game in terms of stepping through the pocket and through the garbage, as opposed to bailing out. So he's getting better."
A four-star prospect out of high school, Etling was ranked the No. 9 "Pro-Style Quarterback" by Rivals. com and No. 12 by ESPN.com.
In his debut against Northern Illinois, he completed 19 of 39 passes for 241 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. Etling during the Nebraska game went 14 for 35 for 184 yards with one TD and one interception.
Hazell has high praise for OSU quarterback Braxton Miller.
"Braxton is a special talent and the thing that makes him so good, he's starting to throw the ball exceptionally well," said the Purdue coach. "He always gets them out of trouble. Doesn't matter what the scheme is, he's back there running around like Fran Tarkenton, and somebody will come open at some point in time. He's a very special athlete, he sees the field and he has great vision when he pulls it down."
During OSU head coach Urban Meyer's press conference, a sportswriter mentioned how well Miller had played during last week's game and asked the coach if he envisioned things could get even better.
"Much better," replied Meyer. "You're talking about an incredible release, arm strength. There's still some things, he cowboyed it a few times which means when they kind of broke down, he panicked in the pocket when he didn't have to. We already had a meeting this morning (Monday) about it. And he needs to know where his check down is."
Buckeye senior safety C.J. Barnett is one of 15 semifinalists for the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award given to the top defensive back in college football, and junior linebacker Ryan Shazier is among the 12 semifinalists for the Butkus Award in addition to being a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award for the nation's defensive player of the year and a quarterfinalist for theh Lott IMPACT Award.
Saturday's game will be at Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, and Purdue has defeated the Buckeyes in each of their last two games there. In 2009, the Boilermakers beat the No. 7 Buckeyes, 26-18, and also had a 26-20 overtime win in 2011. Purdue has been the winner in four of its last six games with OSU at Ross-Ade, dating back to the 2000 season.
Overall, OSU leads the series 39-14-2 and was victorious 29-22 in overtime last year in Columbus.
Purdue's record is 1-6 overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten. It defeated Indiana State, 20-14, but lost to Cincinnati, 42-7; Notre Dame, 31-24; Wisconsin, 41-10; Northern Illinois, 55-24; Nebraska, 44-7 and Michigan State, 14-0.
FOUR of Purdue's coaches and team personnel are former Buckeyes, including Hazell, who was assistant head coach/wide receivers coach for seven seasons under former head coach Jim Tressel. Hazell was head football coach from 2011-12 at Kent State University before being hired as Purdue coach last December.
Marcus Freeman, linebackers coach for the Boilermakers, played for OSU from 2004-08 and was a graduate assistant for OSU in 2010. Purdue graduate assistant John Nussman, a 2012 OSU graduate, served for three years as an offensive assistant/intern as an undergraduate, and Doug Davis, Purdue's senior associate director of sports performance, spent four years at OSU as an assistant strength coach.
HOPEFUL of continuing their winning ways, the Buckeyes now have the longest winning streak in the nation after marking their 20th victory last week.
SATURDAY'S game, which will be aired by the BTN, will begin at noon.