Purdue has history, but that’s all

Jim Naveau 419-993-2087 •

November 2, 2013

The schedule says Ohio State’s football game at Purdue today is its third road game of the year.

But, judging by the amount of scarlet and gray you will see in the seats at Ross-Ade Stadium this afternoon and saw in road games at Northwestern and California, it’s more like the Buckeyes’ ninth consecutive home game.

Ohio State fans travel well and are more than willing to scoop up tickets when a team’s fan base is disinterested or disinclined to come out to see their team take a beating from the Buckeyes.

OSU fans are passionate about their team. So it upsets them greatly when someone doesn’t share their Buckeye love.

Right now the polls don’t love the Buckeyes. At least they don’t love them as much as Alabama, Oregon and Florida State, which means even if Ohio State wins the rest of its games and extends its winning streak to 25 games, it might not play for the national championship.

The biggest reason for this is that the Big Ten’s football reputation has taken some big hits lately.

You can debate all you want about how Alabama and Oregon and Florida State’s strength of schedules are no better than OSU’s but the perception will still be there.

Another reason might be that some people still have negative feelings toward Ohio State because of its run-in with the NCAA and toward Urban Meyer for whatever reasons.

And until last Saturday night’s 63-14 win over Penn State, OSU had been playing close games, not dominating opponents.

Of course, once the Buckeyes got a blowout win, some of the critics then accused them of running up the score.

So, the only thing OSU can do is win the rest of its games, preferably by impressive scores, and see what happens.

Today’s game at Purdue appears to be a chance to make a statement for the second week in a row.

Recently, Purdue has been a thorn in OSU’s side. Last year, Kenny Guiton came off the bench to lead a miraculous comeback. In the Buckeyes’ last two trips to Purdue, in 2011 and 2009, they were upset.

But this season’s Boilermakers (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten) appear to have less talent than those earlier Purdue teams. They’ve certainly been less productive, ranking last in the Big Ten in scoring offense and next-to-last in points allowed.

Purdue’s 13.1 points a game on offense is worse than all but three FBS schools. It is last in 11 of the 33 statistical categories the Big Ten follows and last by a wide margin in several of those. Ohio State ranks fourth nationally in scoring at 47.2 points a game.

Purdue quarterback, freshman Danny Etling, has completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes. Its leading rusher Akeem Hunt averages 42 yards a game. Its offensive line, which has given up 10 sacks the last two games, will be facing an OSU defense that leads the Big Ten in sacks with 20.

Darrell Hazell, who spent seven years as an assistant coach at Ohio State under Jim Tressel, is in his first year of trying to turn around the Purdue program.

He went to Kent State from OSU and got the Golden Flashes to within one game of a trip to a BCS bowl game and was once regarded as a possible Tressel successor before Tressel’s exit from Ohio State unexpectedly came several years ahead of schedule.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Hazell produce a winner at Purdue. But not this season. And not this game.

The prediction: Ohio State 49, Purdue 7