Ohio State-Purdue matchups usually anything but boring

Todd Porter

Write off Purdue if you want. Then again, has this Ohio State team convinced anyone it is able to sleepwalk its way to a win?

The 12th-ranked Buckeyes (5-1, 2-0), coming off a last-minute win at Wisconsin, will need a convincing victory against the Boilermakers (2-3, 0-1) today at Ohio Stadium if they want to continue their climb back into the top 10. Kickoff is 3:30 p.m.

Usually, though, when OSU and Purdue hit the field, it’s anything but boring.

“Guys that have been around here for a long time know when Ohio State and Purdue square off, it’s a battle,” Buckeyes Head Coach Jim Tressel said. “There have been overtimes. There have been last-second wins. Our focus needs to be not only on the fact that Purdue is good ... but simply on we’ve got to get a lot better.

“Our game last weekend, we all feel good about that. But we’ve got to play better in nearly everything we do in order to beat good teams.”

To that end, Tressel has tinkered with his starting offensive lineup a bit. Terrelle Pryor, a true freshman who has impressed each week, is cemented as the starting quarterback. What wasn’t quite as sure was the status of true freshman center Michael Brewster.

“You wouldn’t have thought that a true freshman was going to be the guy for that spot because of all that entails,” Tressel said. “He’s done a pretty solid job.”

Ohio State’s offense isn’t what Tressel envisioned before the season. OSU is running more option, more shotgun and pistol sets to isolate Pryor and running back Beanie Wells.

“We’re a little bit different in that there is a little bit more of the zone read-type thing in the package,” Tressel said. “We’ve always had it in, but I guess it’s been used more. A little bit of the reality is that Beanie was out and Terrelle was in there and those kinds of things, but we’re only six games into the season, and how it’s going to play out, I still don’t know.”

The Boilermakers are to the point they have to save their season or flush it.

“It’s time for everybody to believe and not hope,” Purdue wide receiver

Desmond Tardy told reporters this week. Last week, Head Coach Joe Tiller lost that belief in benching senior quarterback Curtis Painter. “He’s the second leading passer in the history of the school, and they’ve had some passers at Purdue,” Tressel said of Painter.

Tiller said Painter would start today.

This is Tiller’s final season at Purdue, where he has elevated the program. Tiller is an Ohio native, and Tressel has shown a liking for the veteran head coach.

This has been the kind of game -- after a big road win against Wisconsin and before another road test against Michigan State -- that poses problems for a team with OSU’s mix of youth and experience. What Tressel wants from his offense is consistency.

The Buckeyes took their first drive of the game and scored against the Badgers. It went AWOL for a period of time before Pryor’s game-winning drive at the end.

“We didn’t execute after that (first drive),” Tressel said. “Then three of our last four drives, on the other hand, were 10-, 10- and 12-play drives. Why is that? I’m not sure. Do we need to be more consistent than that? Absolutely. That’s what we’ve got to work to get better at.”

Purdue at Ohio State

3:30, Ohio Stadium, Columbus

TV: WEWS Channel 5

TV CREW: ABC with Ron Franklin and Ed Cunningham. Jack Arute will work the sidelines.

RADIO: Ohio State Radio Network (WHBC-AM 1480, WKNR-AM 850, WAKR-AM 1590) with Paul Keels, Jim Lachey and Marty Bannister.

ODDS: OSU is an 18 1/2-point favorite.

THE SERIES: Ohio State leads the series 36-12-2, including 24-5-2 in


THEY’RE FROM PURDUE: Alliance native and Pro Football Hall of Famer Len Dawson graduated in 1955. Actor George Peppard, who played Col. John “Hannibal” Smith on “The A-Team,” went to Purdue. Neil Armstrong is one of 22 astronauts who are graduates.

THE COACHES: Jim Tressel is 78-17 in his eighth season at OSU and 212-74-2 in his career. Ohio native Joe Tiller is coaching in his final season at Purdue. Tiller, who graduated from Montana State, is 85-57 in 12 seasons at Purdue. He is 124-87-1 in his career as head coach.

WHEN OSU HAS THE BALL: If you’re bored with the Terrelle Pryor and Chris “Beanie” Wells show, nothing is going to change now. The Buckeyes are going to run the ball, run the ball and then run it more. Purdue’s run defense is among the worst in the country. This will be a good game for the Buckeyes to fine-tune their ground attack. The Buckeyes will open it up early only because the Boilermakers are likely to put eight in the box. Look for Pryor to come out passing early and get his timing down with WRs Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie.

WHEN PURDUE HAS THE BALL: Tiller is not pleased with the play of QB Curtis Painter, one of the best QBs in the Big Ten, and benched the senior last week. What Painter lacks is play-making receivers. If the Buckeye offense struggles, don’t be surprised if Purdue tries to run the ball, which would shorten the game and keep it in the contest longer. OSU’s defense has been susceptible to the run at times. Purdue will move the ball, but the real test will be how it does in the red zone against OSU’s defense. The Boilermakers have the country’s 94th-ranked redzone offense.

PORTER’S PICK: Dust off Todd Boeckman and get him some work. OSU yawns its way to a win, 31-10.

The Repository