Ohio State Football: 7 Buckeyes to Watch vs. Purdue Boilermakers

Bob Bajek@bobbajekAnalyst IIINovember 9, 2011

Ohio State Football: 7 Buckeyes to Watch vs. Purdue Boilermakers

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    Ohio State football has been on a roll and seven Buckeyes look to shine Saturday against Big Ten rival the Purdue Boilermakers

    The Boilermakers (4-5, 2-3) have lost three out of four of their last games, including a 62-17 beat down by the Wisconsin Badgers.

    Meanwhile, the Buckeyes (6-3, 3-2) are on a three-game winning streak with the return seniors Dan Herron and Mike Adams.

    Who could be the shining seven Ohio State players this week?

RB Carlos Hyde

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    Sophomore running back Carlos Hyde showed Ohio State coaches what they were missing the last couple of games.

    The 6'1", 238-pound Hyde had 105 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against the Indiana Hoosiers. He leads the Buckeyes with 513 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

    Hyde is a strong back who could punish opponents with his physicality. He can also leave them in the dust, as shown in his 60-yard run last Saturday.

    The Purdue Boilermakers have a weak run defense. They rank 92nd in the nation by giving up 191.1 yards a game.

    Hyde will need to use his physicality on Purdue senior linebacker Joe Holland. The 6'1", 229-pound Holland has 67 tackles and an interception this season.

CB Travis Howard

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    Cornerback Travis Howard has been playing well of late for the Buckeyes. 

    The junior from Miami has 10 tackles and two interceptions in his last three games. He also has three pass breakups this year.

    Against the Indiana Hoosiers, Howard intercepted Indiana freshman quarterback Tre Roberson in the fourth quarter to secure a victory.

    Howard will have to slow down Boilermaker receivers O.J. Ross (326 yards and three touchdowns) and Justin Siller (342 yards and a touchdown).

RB Dan Herron

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    This shouldn't be a surprise anymore as running back Dan Herron has been amazing for the Buckeyes.

    The Ohio State senior has 415 yards on 70 carries in just three games. Two of those runs were for touchdowns.

    By the way Herron is running, he could get over 1,000 yards if the Buckeyes play in the Big Ten Championship Game.

    The Purdue Boilermakers have a porous run defense and the Buckeyes cannot seem to get the passing game going. Expect Herron to carve out more yards while sharing some carries with sophomore Carlos Hyde.

DT John Simon

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    Junior defensive tackle John Simon has been the Buckeyes defensive leader in 2011.

    Simon has been disruptive to opposing offense's running and passing games.

    He has 39 tackles (12 for loss), six sacks and three pass breakups on the season.

    During the Buckeyes' winning streak, No. 54 has turned it up a notch. He has 21 tackles and five sacks.

    The Boilermakers do not have a good offensive line. The unit has given up 20 sacks (77th) and 61 tackles for a loss (98th).

    Purdue junior center Rick Schmeig will have his hands full protecting junior quarterback Caleb TerBush.

    To stop Simon, the Boilermakers might want to double team him with their offensive guards. However, that will open up opportunities for defensive lineman like sophomore defensive tackle Adam Bellemy (14 tackles, one sack).

WR Devin Smith

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    Freshman wide receiver Devin Smith has performed well as a true freshman.

    The 6'3", 190-pound player from Massillon, Ohio, has 10 catches for 227 yards and four scores, including the game-winner against the Wisconsin Badgers.

    However, Smith did not get any receptions against the Indiana Hoosiers.

    Smith needs to work on separating himself from corners and build a strong rapport with freshman quarterback Braxton Miller.

    No. 15 will need to catch over Boilermaker cornerbacks Ricardo Allen (48 tackles, three interceptions) and Josh Johnson (39 tackles, one interception).

LB Andrew Sweat

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    Andrew Sweat had a solid game against the Indiana Hoosiers.

    The senior linebacker had nine tackles against the Hoosiers.

    In 2011, Sweat leads the Buckeyes with 66 tackles and he has an interception.

    Against the Purdue Boilermakers, Sweat will be asked to stop Purdue running backs Ralph Bolden (439 yards and three touchdowns) and Akeem Shavers (338 yards and five touchdowns).

    Both Bolden and Shavers have struggled the last three games, combining for 141 yards and no scores.

QB Braxton Miller

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    Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller needs to find a way to get the passing game going.

    While the offensive game plan has been pounding it on the ground, the Buckeyes need an aerial attack if they are going to beat the Penn State Nittany Lions and Michigan Wolverines.

    Miller has gone 13-of-27 for 161 yards, two touchdowns and a pick during the winning streak.

    The Purdue Boilermakers have a decent secondary, giving up 209.1 yards a game (43rd). However, they are not stellar either.

    The Boilermakers defense also has only 12 sacks (104th), so the Buckeyes' offensive line should give Miller plenty of time to throw.

    Miller will do well running the ball, but the question is, "will he throw for over 100 for the second time this season?"

    Bob Bajek is a writing intern at Bleacher Report. He is also a freelance reporter and can be followed at Patch.com and Twitter.