Lantern file photo
The Purdue Boilermakers bring a two-game losing skid into Ohio Stadium this weekend, but they aren’t lacking for confidence. After all, Purdue has recent history on its side in the series against Ohio State football.
Purdue lost its last two games to Michigan and Wisconsin by a combined score of 55 points, but that has not shaken the confidence of Purdue senior wide receiver Antavian Edison going into Saturday’s game at Ohio Stadium against the undefeated No. 7-ranked Buckeyes.
“We know we’re capable of coming out with a victory,” Edison told The Lantern.
The Boilermakers are only 3-3 this season but winning against OSU would not be new for Purdue. The Boilermakers have won twice in their last three matchups against the Buckeyes, including a 26-23 overtime victory last season in West Lafayette, Ind.
Edison, however, said this year’s game will be different from last season.
“Last year is last year,” Edison said. “We feel like we’re a better team … some guys, (last year’s win) may give them the confidence, but we put last year behind us. It’s a whole new year, and we’re ready to see what they have to offer, and we’re ready to go out there and play.”
Coach Danny Hope said the Boilermakers have played well in their recent victories against the Buckeyes, but that they have to be on their “A-game” to beat OSU Saturday.
“We’ve played well a couple times against them, and have played well enough to win, and that’s encouraging, but you have to play really well in order to beat them,” Hope said during Tuesday’s Big Ten coaches’ teleconference. “If we don’t take care of business, if you don’t take care of the football … they’re way too talented … we need to play better.”
Hope said the keys for his team to compete for a win on Saturday will be sound tackling on defense and having a balanced offense.
“We’re going to have to tackle somebody, that’s for sure, because we missed a ton of tackles this past weekend, and it made the outcome of the games a lot worse,” Hope said. “Also, from an offensive standpoint, we need to be able to manufacture both some type of tough running game and passing game.”
Purdue’s defense is led by redshirt senior defensive tackle Kawann Short, a team captain who leads the team with nine tackles for loss, four sacks and four blocked kicks.
OSU coach Urban Meyer said he sees Short as a first-round NFL draft pick.
“I see a team that plays a lot of man coverage and makes it really hard to run the ball,” Meyer said during Tuesday’s Big Ten coaches’ teleconference. “I think they’re just some missed tackles away from being really good on defense.”
Offensively, the Boilermakers have rotated between three quarterbacks this season, but Hope said redshirt senior Caleb TerBush, who has started the team’s last five games, should receive the most playing time in Saturday’s contest versus the Buckeyes.
TerBush said Saturday’s contest in Ohio Stadium is a “huge game,” but also that it’s “just another game we have to go out and take care of business.”
“Every game you play is a big game,” TerBush said. “We’ve had some good games against them. They’re ready. They’re not too happy about getting beat last year, I can guarantee that. They’re a good, disciplined team, they got a great coach and a lot of great ballplayers over there.”
The Buckeyes’ defense has struggled in the past two games, giving up a combination of 87 points and 918 yards of total offense to Nebraska and Indiana, but TerBush said the Boilermakers’ offense cannot take their opponents lightly.
“They may have given up some points in those couple games, but they’re still a good defense,” TerBush said. “I mean, it’s Ohio State, they got a great program, they’re 7-0 for a reason … The defense is fast, they got a lot of people coming back and they got some leadership over there.”
On the other side of the ball, Hope said that since last year’s win, OSU sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller is a “much more complete player.”
“They’ve done a great job training Braxton and he’s a fantastic athlete, and a great competitor,” Hope said. “There’s nothing that he can’t do. He’s an outstanding passer, he’s a great runner. I think he’s one of the top players at his position, not only in our conference but on a national level.”
The Boilermakers held the Buckeyes to 163 rushing yards last season, but this year, the Buckeyes rank eighth nationally with more than 263 rushing yards per game. Hope described what has allowed the Buckeyes to “manufacture an outstanding run game.”
“Their offensive line … they play hard, and they have good size, and good athleticism, so I think they’ve improved across the line of scrimmage with the play of their offensive line,” Hope said. “They’re extremely talented at the running back position and at the quarterback position, and the fact that they can open it up and air it out and they can make big plays in the passing game, that opens things for them in the running game as well.”
The Buckeyes have four more wins and three fewer losses than the Boilermakers, but Meyer expects Saturday’s game, which kicks off at noon, to be close.
“Regardless of what the record (is) and all that, we’re expecting a team that’s a fairly evenly-matched game,” Meyer said.
The Boilermakers have only won twice in the Horseshoe in the past 60 years, but Edison thinks his team can win in an environment he expects to be “crazy.”
“(Ohio State’s) season is going very well, the fans are into it and everything, but you know, that’s the type of stuff we live for,” Edison said. “I like that type of energy, being able to walk in and get a very big win and keep ourselves alive in the race (to win the Big Ten Leaders division).”