Off the Tracks: Ohio State has obviously long been the class of the Big Ten along with Michigan. Since Purdue hired Joe Tiller he is only 1-5 against the Wolverines, being blown out in all but one of those losses. He's only slightly better at 2-4 against Ohio State, but they have played some memorable close games and five of the six have been decided in the final minutes. What do you attribute this to?
Buckeye Lane: Maybe good timing, Ohio State hasn't played Purdue since 2004. Last year, Purdue (8-6, 5-3 Big Ten) was a solid team, but OSU (12-1, 8-0) was a great team. 2005, Purdue (5-6, 3-5) was awful for its standards and OSU (10-2, 7-1) was very good. 2004 was a rebuilding year for the Buckeyes; both teams finished 4-4 in the Big Ten. Purdue won 24-17 at home that year, but quarterback Troy Smith was making his fourth career start and it showed when he was picked off three times. Both teams were evenly matched in 2003 and again the home team won. I will touch on the "Holy Toledo" and "Holy Buckeye" plays in the next question. Overall, I would say good timing and Purdue's recent strength at the quarterback position.
Off the Tracks: Are you as tired of seeing the "Holy Toledo" Brees to Morales play as we are of seeing the "Holy Buckeye" play of two years later?
Buckeye Lane: Honestly I haven't seen the "Holy Toledo" or the "Holy Buckeye" play that much in recent years. I think that is because the two schools haven't played each other since 2004. However, I know that I will be tired of seeing those plays come Saturday. First I want to touch on the "Holy Buckeye" play. In 2002, the Buckeyes won a bunch of low-scoring thrilling games. I know it had to be rough for Purdue fans – fourth and one – against a 10-0 team. However, that 2000 "Holy Toledo" play was just as heartbreaking to Buckeye fans. Drew Brees was such a good player, after throwing four interceptions then making that play. But OSU didn't deserve to win since Brees was matched up against Steve Bellisari.
Off the Tracks: Obviously the storyline is Purdue high-powered offense against Ohio State's Great defense, but the game may be decided the opposite way. Ohio State has been a slow starter offensively most of this season against inferior competition, while Purdue's defense has allowed only 20 points in the first half combined and 14 of those came in the opener at Toledo. How do you see this making a difference Saturday? If Purdue is able to jump out to a lead like it has in its past games can Ohio State play from behind? Can Purdue for that matter?
Buckeye Lane: I have been trying to convince Buckeye fans for weeks to be worried about this game. It is very unpredictable, considering neither team has played a tough schedule. I believe that the Buckeye defense will shut down Kory Sheets and Jaycen Taylor, which will force Curtis Painter to be like Brett Farve and throw every down. I like cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, but I do think that he is overrated and Dorien Bryant could beat him. I don't know if the Buckeyes are a slow starter, four out of their five games they scored on their opening drive. The last two weeks, Ohio State has scored 42 first quarter points. Overall, OSU is a slow team that traditionally plays that boring brand of Big Ten football. Honestly, I don't know what is going to happen on Saturday. I believe both teams have the ability to comeback. Ohio State was trailing Washington 3-7 at halftime. Purdue has the offense to make plays. This weekend, I think a lot will be learned about both teams.
Off the Tracks: Obviously with a 23 game regular season winning streak Ohio State comes in with a ton of confidence. What scares you the most and what scenario would you see that streak ending on Saturday?
Buckeye Lane: The team's confidence scares me the most. I truly believe that was the reason the Buckeyes lost the National Championship, not the lay off, but they were too confident. As of right now, I think the Buckeyes will win in a 35-17 game. However, my opinion is slightly biased and I haven't seen that much of Purdue this season. Another thing that scares me is that this is a night game on the road, which is something the Buckeyes have struggled with in the past. So the atmosphere, Purdue's passing game and an overly confident OSU team worries me the most.
Off the Tracks: Finally I ask (and be honest) because my wife is a University of Miami grad and is still pissed about the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. Was that really pass interference?
Buckeye Lane: I touched on this subject on the Big Ten Roundtable (http://www.buckeyelane.com/big-ten-roundtable-of-bloggers-week-five/) last week. Honestly, I believe that there was defensive holding on the play. While the ball was in the air, Glenn Sharpe was all over Chris Gamble. Most replays just show the end of play, which was still questionable in my book. If you watch football you see countless plays where the defender is called for pass interference when he defends the receiver and not the ball. Sharpe doesn't look for the ball and is playing Gamble. I see that call being called over and over again on every level of the game, but when it happens that late with the title on the line it is going to upset some people. Isn't it interesting that the first thing Sharpe did after the play was glance at the referee to see if he was going to miss the call? Then back judge called it late, which makes it a bigger mess. I defiantly can see Miami fans being upset with the call, but Buckeye fans would be angry if they didn't call it. It is truly one of those calls that will never lose it controversial tag.
Thanks for stopping by, Adam, and enjoy the game on Saturday.