I can honestly say that today's game probably shaved about five years off the end of my life. Sure, they are the wheelchair, adult-diaper wearing years, but for the entire second half I felt as if I was on the verge of hyperventilating. I know it is never easy for us. I am to the point that if we need one play to seal a game defensively, like we did today, we simply will not get it. Once Jordan Hall caught Braxton Miller's heave with under a minute to play I was already thinking about a final drive while they were setting up for what was a sure go-ahead extra point.
I knew the wind was in our favor, giving us a short kick and Raheem Mostert a chance for a decent return. With Carson Wiggs and his big leg on the sideline I was hoping to get to midfield for even a 67-yard attempt, which was possible. Bruce Gaston busted through and mad an absolutely huge block though. Since Robert Marve threw the worst interception since Drew's pick in the 2000 OSU game Gaston's block then saved our ass.
I admit, I had nothing left for overtime. College overtime is exciting if you're watching a random game on ESPN. When the team you live and die by is in an overtime game It is a nerve-wracking knife edge that makes you question why you think watching college football is fun. If you're on defense first and give up a field goal the stakes become higher. Then, a touchdown wins it, but a turnover loses it. Twice Marve kept plays alive on third down, including an amazing third and long pass to Gary Bush that caused bedlam because I thought he broke the plane. He didn't, but with a first and goal from a foot out I knew we had no excuse to not score a TD. If you can't get a foot in four plays at home you don't deserve to play football.
When Marve scored I pretty much collapsed in the stands. Our ownership of OSU in West Lafayette continued, and now we're a Bucket away from a bowl. I call it ownership because we have inexplicably won four of six against the Buckeyes in Ross-Ade, and it really should be five of six. Over the past 11 years they have not struggled anywhere else as bad as they struggle at Purdue. Considering we just beat a team that beat the team that beat us 62-17, it does not make a damn bit of sense, but who cares. The scoreboard's 26-23 final margin is really all that matters.
Positives From The Ohio State Game:
The Defensive Line - Yes, there were moments when Braxton Miller ran amok like Terrelle Pryor in his prime, but Miller was their sole offense today. Well, he got help from Dan Herron, Carlos Hyde, and Hall all taking direct snaps. That was the only consistent offense OSU could generate, and after being told in the game preview that Ohio State would have no trouble dominating with its offensive line, I think we had given up 16 yards on the ground at the half. Gaston, Kawann Short, Brandon Taylor, Gerald Gooden, and Ryan Russell came to play today and played with a ton of pride after getting gashed the past two weeks. I said we had no chance if we couldn't slow down the run, but we did it. As predicted, we won as a result.
Ralph Bolden - I feel like Ralph won't truly be back until next year, but he set the tone with some early runs and had a very nice touchdown set up by a great block from Justin Siller. His big run on the opening drive is what opened things up and set the tone for us.
Justin Siller - He was very effective in the Wild Siller, and I know teams have to respect it more than Hyde or Herron in the wildcat because, as a former quarterback, Siller is a legitimate threat to throw. Justin also had six catches for 45 yards.
Robert Marve - I don't know if Marve is going to get a sixth year next year. I hope he starts the next two games, but he may still split time with Caleb TerBush. His interception was awful. Still, he kept his head and when Hope gave him a chance in overtime, he delivered. We can't forget the 88-yard touchdown drive he engineered before halftime, either. Strangely, the two QB system is working. TerBush starts games well, but Marve give us more of a chance in the mid-game. If you can figure it out, more power to you.
Defensive Secondary - It seems like Josh Johnson was a step from an interception about three times. Most of Ohio State's completed passes where of the, "Miller running around praying someone gets open," variety. Ricardo Allen, Albert Evans, and Johnson were able to keep receivers under wraps and give the line time bottle up Miller or force a bad throw. Two of Ohio State's three touchdowns came on plays where a guy had to work his way open after about five seconds of coverage.
Negatives From The Ohio State Game:
The Officials - You have to love Big Ten officials, who seemed clueless on a number of calls and even ruled a fumble on a Crosby Wright catch when he was clearly down. They missed a ton of holds, a few pass interference calls, and were generally incompetent.
Cody Webster - It was a very rough day for Cody. The wind was a factor, but still not enough for him to struggle that much on kicks.
Making that one play - The next game in which we have one play to end the game on defense and we actually do it will be our first. No matter what, we can't make it easy. Fortunately, OSU did us a favor by running the ball almost exclusively in the fourth quarter and wearing the clock down for us.
Playcalling with a lead - Once again, we were more conservative than the Duggar family once we got a double-digit lead. For once can we please go for the kill? The playcalling at the end of the first half was especially bad since it damn near gave them a field goal.
Well, we are where we wanted to be. We know that no matter what, we will go to a bowl as long as we get our Bucket back. Now the pressure is off next week against an Iowa team I know we can beat at home. Get that, and we can actually play Indiana for bowl positioning as opposed to needing it to get a bowl.
This win feels good because for once this year, we saw what we needed to do and did it. Coach Hope coached a pretty solid game. We took away their running game for het first half and made them play from behind throughout. It was pretty damn hectic that we needed a blocked extra point and overtime to get the win, but we got it. That's all that matters in the standings.
We're 5-5. Sure, we could probably be 7-3 fairly easily with the Rice game and the errors at Penn State, but we handled adversity and got better. I admit that (Notre Dame game aside) we're a much better team at home. Now let's beat Our Most Hated Rival and clinch a bowl bid for the seniors next week.