WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Red zone? More like red-faced zone.
Even though two fourth-quarter touchdowns made it look like a closer game than it really was, there was no way to disguise the fact No. 2 Ohio State’s 49-20 loss to Purdue on Saturday night was an embarrassment for the Buckeyes.
Purdue (4-3, 3-1 Big Ten) is a team on a bit of a roll with four straight wins. But teams ranked No. 2 in the country with aspirations of playing for the national championship do not expect to lose by four touchdowns to a team that lost to Eastern Michigan.
Maybe the Purdue students who chanted “Overrated, overrated” at Ohio State before the game were on to something.
Ohio State (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) was one dimensional on offense with all but 76 yards of its 546 yards total offense coming on passes. And defensively it was susceptible to big plays.
None of that was new. But unlike the rest of the season, Ohio State was not able to overcome those flaws on Saturday night.
Purdue had 539 yards total offense. Quarterback David Blough was 25 of 43 for 378 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Rondale Moore caught 12 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns and D.J. Knox ran for 128 yards and three touchdowns, one of them on a 42-yard run and another on a 40-yard run,
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins was 49 of 73 for 470 yards and two touchdowns. All of those numbers except the touchdowns were Ohio State records.
When Ohio State fell behind 14-3 at halftime after settling for field goal attempts, one successful and one that wasn’t, on two trips into the red zone (inside the 20-yard line) it was a cause for concern. But by the time Purdue was finished that had faded into the background.
It was like Iowa 55, Ohio State 24, Part II a year later.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he was “very surprised” at how the game went. “There are some serious shortcomings right now that we have to get fixed. We have good players and good coaches. We’re going to work our you-know-whats off to get it right,” he said.
“Every time you thought we were going to swing and get back into it, we wouldn’t score in the red zone or there was a turnover or we’d give up the big hit,” Meyer said.
The lack of a running game is a big concern, Meyer said. “We have to get something going. Down the stretch we have to get a run game.”
Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said he emphasized being aggressive in all facets of the game and his team played with aggression. “When you’re aggressive good things happen,” he said. “Maybe we made them slightly panic in what they did offensively.
“It was a fantastic performance by our football team. It wasn’t like we won by one point,” Brohm said.
OSU had two long drives in the first half that got to Purdue’s 7-yard line and its 15-yard line and got only three points out of those drives.
The first of those came with the help of two 15-yard Purdue penalties. But two running plays that were stuffed and an incomplete pass from the Boilermakers’ 7-yard line forced Ohio State to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Blake Haubeil to cut Purdue’s lead to 7-3.
The second came at the end of a 15-play drive that started at OSU’s 2-yard line. But the Buckeyes got no points out of that drive when Haubeil missed a 33-yard line wide left with 1:51 left in the first half.
Purdue jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 1:10 left in the first quarter on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Blough to Issac Zico.
The Boilermakers’ second touchdown came on its next possession after Haubeil’s missed field goal. They drove 80 yards in eight plays, with a 37-yard pass to Blough and a successful fake field goal for a first down being two of the biggest plays.
Zico also scored the second touchdown on a 9-yard pass from Blough.
Purdue led 21-6 after three quarters then put four touchdowns on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter to put the game into the blowout category.
Haskins’ 32-yard touchdown pass to Johnnie Dixon with 9:36 left in the game to cut the lead to 28-13 was OSU’s first touchdown of the game. Haskins connected with Terry McLaurin on a 34-yard touchdown pass with four minutes to play for the Buckeyes’ other touchdown.
Purdue’s four touchdowns in the fourth quarter all came on big plays – Knox’s 42-yard run and 40-yard run, a 43-yard pass to Moore and a 41-yard interception by Markus Bailey.