Ohio State vs. Purdue: 10 Keys to Watch During Big Ten Bout

Antonio BonkalskiContributor IIINovember 10, 2011

Ohio State vs. Purdue: 10 Keys to Watch During Big Ten Bout

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    The Ohio State Buckeyes head into Ross-Ade Stadium this weekend to face the Purdue Boilermakers.

    This Big Ten bout looks as if it could form a very tough contest between the two teams.

    The Buckeyes come into the game on a three-game winning streak against some good teams while the Boilermakers come into Saturday riding a tough two-game losing streak versus two ranked teams.

    Just seeing that, you may think that it will be an easy win for the Buckeyes, but don't be surprised if Purdue can make the game very interesting.

    Here are some keys to watch during this Big Ten matchup.

Streaks Heading into the Game

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    Ohio State is riding high after winning their last three after having a dismal 3-3 record.

    They have now improved to 6-3 and have had some impressive victories during their streak.

    After losing a tough bout to then-14th ranked Nebraska, they found a way to pull out victories against the Fighting Illini and and even more impressive victory over the Wisconsin Badgers. 

    This is a tale of two teams headed in different directions. 

    Purdue is on a two-game losing streak, falling to two ranked teams in the Badgers and the Michigan Wolverines. 

    The Boilermakers were basically trounced by both teams and might be in need of some motivation this weekend to find a way to win over the Buckeyes.

Ohio State's Schedule

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    Ohio State has just come off a rigorous four-game span in which they played three highly ranked teams.

    They are emotionally distraught and after winning three of the four, two of the wins against ranked opponents, the Buckeyes could be looking too far ahead instead of looking at the Boilermakers.

    The Buckeyes have to face No. 12 Penn State next Saturday so their minds might not necessarily be 100 percent into their bout against the Boilermakers.

    If Ohio State is looking too far ahead, it could prove costly for the Buckeyes as Purdue can take advantage of the lack of focus.

Home Field Advantage

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    The Purdue Boilermakers have home field advantage in this match up, and it might not seem like much because they are not a stadium that can hold a tremendous amount of fans screaming for their team, but it could be worth looking into.

    The Buckeyes never look forward to making the trip to Ross-Ade Stadium because even though they face a weaker opponent, they have not had luck in West Lafayette.

    In their past five games played at the home of the Boilermakers, Ohio State has lost three. 

    This is crazy to hear because as it is, Purdue is the only Big Ten team that has a winning home record against the Buckeyes and that includes Happy Valley of Penn State and Michigan Stadium of the Wolverines.

    It may not be the biggest key, but it is worth a watch.

Ohio State Passing Game

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    Defeating two ranked teams in three weeks, you'd have to believe that the Buckeyes are showing an explosive offense and they have but it is not balanced in the least bit.

    The Buckeyes passing game is not very good at all. In fact it is ranked 118th in the nation, which doesn't bode well and cannot explain a 6-3 record.

    Braxton Miller is more of a threat in the running game and is not a very good passing quarterback.

    The Buckeyes have thrown for less than 100 yards a game in the past three games and have thrown for a whopping total of only 27 passes combined.

    Can Ohio State get it going through the air?

    We will just have to wait and see.

Ohio State Running Game

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    What the Buckeyes lack in their passing game, they make up for in their rushing attack.

    Their starting quarterback is more of a running back so he will definitely be able to rush the ball against the Boilermakers. 

    Last week against Indiana, three Buckeyes reached the 100-yard mark : Dan Herron, Carlos Hyde, Braxton Miller. They show no signs of stopping against Purdue.

    Herron has established himself as a solid go-to back after being an utter disappointment last year for the Buckeyes.

    The Boilermakers are in for some trouble when they have to face this rushing attack from the Buckeyes who can beat you with both their running backs and quarterbacks in the rushing game.

Wide Receiver Edge

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    The edge in the wide receiver game has to go to the Boilermakers.

    The Buckeyes may have some talent at the wideout position but they just don't seem to throw the ball enough to get them involved.

    When they have Miller under center, you can never expect too many passes. The only real threat they have is their tight end Jake Stoneburner who is a huge red zone target for the Buckeyes.

    Purdue has some talent at the wide receivers with Justin Siller, O.J. Ross and Crosby Wright that could be destructive for the Buckeyes defense.

Purdue's Raheem Mostert

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    Mostert was the hands down only good player for the Boilermakers last week, which isn't saying much because they were dominated by the Badgers by a score of 62-17.

    The Boilermakers were only really in the game for the first quarter and that was mostly due to the dangerous Raheem Mostert.

    He had five kickoff returns for a total of 206 yards against the Badgers that gave Purdue very good field position to score early in the game.

    If Mostert can have a monster game this week, the Boilermakers might have a shot versus the Buckeyes.

Purdue's Quarterbacks

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    Purdue brings multiple players in to play the quarterback position.

    Led by Caleb TerBush, the quarterbacks of the Boilermakers could fare well against the Buckeyes.

    Indiana was able to move the ball against the Buckeyes last week and TerBush has played decently this season with a 10 touchdown to six interception ratio. He plays his best in the first and last quarters of the game which is where he will need to against the Buckeyes.

    Former Miami Hurricane Robert Marve will also see time for the Boilermakers, but he is a small threat for the Buckeyes as he is less accurate than TerBush and frankly I do not know why he will get in the game but there should be some sightings.

If It Comes Down to a Last Second Field Goal

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    One thing that is much overlooked especially in the college ranks is the importance of kickers, and Purdue knows this all too well.

    Their senior kicker Carson Wiggs is anything but extraordinary.

    This year he has a terrible missed extra point and it doesn't stop there. He is only 4-of-9 from beyond the thirty yard mark, which is terrible even for a college player.

    If it comes down to a last second field goal the Buckeyes are in much better shape to win the game, even if their kicker isn't the one trying to win it.

Last Matchup and What It Means for Both Teams

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    One thing to watch is what happened when these two teams faced each other last season.

    Ohio State romped the Boilermakers by a score of 49-0. This could be good or bad for both teams.

    For the Buckeyes, it could be good because they know they can dominate the game if they try but bad also because they could be too confident in their ability and falter against the Boilermakers.

    For the Boilermakers, it could be bad because they could have that sour taste in their mouths and not find the confidence in themselves to beat the Buckeyes. That sour taste could be a good thing also because it could make them hungrier for a victory especially playing at home where the Buckeyes can't seem to win.

    Look for this matchup to be closer than expected.