Stadium: Ross-Ade Stadium (62,500)
2011 Record: 7-6
2012 Record: 3-3
Head Coach: Danny Hope (4th year at Purdue, 19-24)
Letterman Returning: (50; lost - 26)
Returning Starters: Offense - 8; Defense - 7; Specialists - 1
Base Defense: 4-3
Base Offense: Ace (3 receivers)
Bob Griese, Pro Football Hall of Fame Quarterback, sportscaster
Neil Armstrong, Astronaut, first man to walk on the moon
Charles Ellis, Designer of the Golden Gate Bridge
Drew Brees, Quarterback, New Orleans Saints
George Peppard, Actor (Hannibal Smith of The A-Team)
John Wooden, College basketball Hall of Famer as player and coach
Orville Redenbacher, Entrepreneur of popcorn fame
Cheerleader Scouting Report:
The big 5th year senior starts for the Boilers but doesn't necessarily finish, as the team also uses Robert Marve and Rob Henry. TerBush has thrown for 716 yards and 8 touchdowns, but has also been picked 6 times. Meanwhile Marve has 50 yards passing and 4 TD's. Neither is much of a threat running the ball, although if Rob Henry enters the game, he has some scrambling ability.
A year ago Shavers shared time with Ralph Bolden, who has been injured but could play some this week. Akeem has solid size and has rushed for 324 yards (4.2 ypc) and 3 TD's thus far. After playing decently last season (his first at Purdue after transferring from Tyler JC), Shavers exploded for 149 yards and was the MVP of the Little Caesar's Bowl, so he is capable.
The diminutive (5'9", 180) sophomore is super quick and you have to figure Purdue will try and get him in space on Saturday. He has rushed for 257 yards at a whopping 11.2 ypc which includes an 81 yard run. Hunt has also caught 7 passes for 119 yards, with one catch going for 50 yards. He returns kicks to boot, and while he hasn't taken one to the house yet, that is always a possibility.
Rarely is a defensive tackle the star of the team but that is the case with this big guy. Short (6'3". 315) really burst on the scene last year when he had 54 tackles, including 17 for loss. In addition he blocked a kick against the Buckeyes that kept OSU from winning the game. This season, despite constant double teaming, he has 20 tackles, with 9 for loss, including 4 sacks, plus 4 blocked kicks.
This outside linebacker was the thrid leading tackler on last year's squad when he finished with 82 stops. So far in 2012, Lucas has upped his game and leads the team with 33 tackles, with 3.5 for loss. He also has an interception, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery, so he is very active. While Purdue's other linebackers are somewhat shaky, Lucas is a reliable veteran.
It is hard to get a read on the mustached head man of the Boilermakers. After 5-7 and 4-8 seasons in 2009 & 10, he was on the hotseat but responded with a 7-6 record a season ago that included a victory in the Little Caesar's Bowl. Most thought Purdue would challenge for the top spot in the Leader's Division this year, but they have lost both B1G games thus far, and not looked impressive in either.
The Boilers come to Ohio State hoping to be spoilers, and put an end to Ohio State's undefeated season, but are feeling the pain of consecutive beatdowns by Michigan and Wisconsin. In recent past Purdue has been a thorn in the Buckeyes' side, although that has mostly taken place in West Lafayette. Whether they can turn things around this year, and inflict damage in Columbus remains to be seen.
Purdue's offense features three quarterbacks, and while many experts were naming the Boilermakers number one in the B1G at this position in the preseason, I never bought into the hype. In fact, my opinion was that they had three good quarterback's, all pretty close in ability, but no "great" player at the position. Depth and quality are two different matters. That being said, Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve, who have been rotating this season, have both had their moments, and played pretty solidly against the Buckeyes last year. Both of them are big, prostyle quarterbacks who throw a lot of short and intermediate passes. Rob Henry is option number three, and brings a little bit more running into the equation. Together they have hit on 62.4% of their passes , averaging 222.3 ypg, with 13 TD's and 9 INT's. In other words they are good enough to inflict major damage on OSU's less than stellar back seven.
Running back features two guys named Akeem, both featured in the Cast of Characters above. The smaller Akeem (Hunt) scares me the most as he is quick, and should be the recipient of some bubble screens. The best back last season was Ralph Bolden, who ran for 80 yards against the Buckeyes a year ago. However, he suffered a knee injury at the end of 2011, and while the senior returned to action last week it was in a limited role. It will be interesting to see if he is a factor.
Purdue's wideouts are mainly possession receivers, and are led by O.J. Ross and Antavian Edison. Ross has 38 catches, but they have only been good for 299 yards and 1 TD. On the other hand, Edison has 31 receptions for 371 yards and 5 TD's. The other starter in their three wideout set is Gary Bush who has solid numbers (21, 191, 4). Tight-ends Gabe Holmes (13,85,1) and Crosby Wright (8,88,0) are pretty interchangeable, and are okay blockers but not spectacular.
The Boiler's offensive line is big and experienced, returning three starters from a season ago, and all five 2012 starters are either juniors or seniors. The offense is averaging 387.3 ypc and 32.8 points per contest, so they have done a solid job, although opponents have sacked Purdue quarterbacks 15 times. Cincinnati, Ohio, native Rick Schmeig anchors the line at center.
Defense has been the biggest concern for Coach Hope and the Boilermakers. A season ago they gave up 26.8 points per game, and so far in 2012 that is slightly up to 27.5, mostly due to the past two weeks when they gave up 44 to Michigan and 38 to Wisconsin. Overall the defense is surrendering 412 yards per game, and now takes on a Buckeye squad with an explosive offense.
The line is Purdue's strongest unit, and is led by the aforementioned Kawann Short, and two other returning starters: tackle Bruce Gaston, who has 12 tackles with 4 for loss, and end Ryan Russell, who has 14 tackles and 2 sacks. From a size standpoint it is probably the biggest d-line OSU will face this year. In spite of that opponents have run for about 200 yards a game, and averaged 5 yards per carry.
Linebacker Will Lucas is a good player, but his companions are not quite as talented, greatly due to the preseason dismissal of MLB Dwayne Beckford. In his place is junior Joe Gilliam, who has 23 tackles, but has not been a playmaker to this point. The other starting linebacker is Robert Maci, who has 16 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, and 2 forced fumbles, but often leaves the game in passing situations.
Corners Josh Johnson (21 tackles, 2 ints and 7 pbu's) and Ricardo Allen (20 tackles, 1 int) are returning starters and play pretty good coverage defense. The safeties, though, are new starters, and have struggled some . Landon Feichter is a sophomore who does have 32 tackles and 3 picks, and Taylor Richards, also a sophomore, has 18 tackles. Pass coverage has been pretty solid, allowing 8 touchdowns while picking off 9 passes, but against the run, the secondary, like the linebackers, has been exploited at times.
Special teams are led by veteran punter Cody Webster who averages 43.3 per boot but has had a punt blocked, which was returned for a touchdown. Kicker Paul Griggs has hit all three of his field goal attempts with a long of 40. The return game has not been too strong for the Boilers, although kick returner Akeem Hunt has big-time potential. On the other hand, Purdue has not surrendered any long kick or punt returns yet this season.
Purdue's statistics don't look too bad, although the 412 yards given up per game is rather gaudy. However, most of their "good" numbers came at the expense of Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan and Marshall. In stark contrast is the past two weeks when they were abused by Michigan and Wisconsin. So this appears to be a team that can whip the also-rans but can't stay up with the big boys. The one game that does not fit this equation is Notre Dame. Back on September 8th, Purdue gave the Irish all they wanted in South Bend before bowing 20-17. So, the question this week is, will Purdue play like they did that afternoon, or like they have the past two weeks? My guess is somewhere in between!
Ohio State seems to have established an identity the past few weeks. They are a run first team, that actually features a power running game out of the spread. Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, and Rod Smith, rushing behind an ever-improving line, help set up the passing game, which can hit on a big play at any time. Considering that Ohio State is averaging 263.6 yards per game, and 5.8 yards per carry on the ground, any defensive coordinator should be concerned. Combine that with Purdue's problems stopping Michigan and Wisconsin, who ran for 304 and 467 respectively, and you see why many think this game will get out of hand. In truth, Ohio State will have to stop themselves with penalties and/or turnovers, because the Boiler defense just doesn't look that strong.
On the other hand, Danny Hope has to believe his troops can score on Ohio State as the Silver Bullets have been firing blanks most of the season. Look for the Boilers to spread out the Buckeye defense and attack with quick., short passes and screens. Stop me if you have heard this before. Considering the state of the OSU back seven, one would hope for a few sacks and forced turnovers, because otherwise there will be a plethora of Purdue points (how's that for alliteration?) For some reason, I think Urban gets the defense fired up this week, and they attack with more bite than a week ago. That doesn't mean that the Boilermakers won't gain yards and score some points, but I do believe we will see improvement in scheme and effort.
If that is the case, then it should be a fairly easy game, which would be nice since Penn State, Wisconsin and that school up north are all on the horizon. The fact that the Bucks are at home, playing a team that beat them last year, and coming off a disappointing performance at Indiana leads me to think that they play with some fire in their bellies this week. I sure hope I'm not disappointed again!
Father vs. Son Prediction Battle:
Dave: OSU 45, Purdue 24
Drew: OSU 49, Purdue 28