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Purdue Harbor 2: Urban’s Reckoning

Why you should pick Purdue not just to beat the spread next week, but to actually beat No. 4 Ohio State.

Joe Robbins

It is a date which will live in infamy. October 17, 2009 was the day that Danny Hope and his 1-5 Boilermakers shocked No. 7 Ohio State 26-18 in Ross-Ade Stadium. It was a victory that absolutely no one, myself included, saw coming. Some Ohio State fans over at the great blog 11 Warriors called it Purdue Harbor because of the surprising nature in which Ohio State's record 16-game Big Ten road winning streak came to an end.

What we didn't know is that it was just the beginning.

November 2, 2013 will be Purdue Harbor 2: Urban's Reckoning.

Laugh if you must, but there are too many similarities to the original Purdue Harbor:

  • Purdue will enter the game with only one victory on the season.
  • Purdue is once again under a first-year head coach.
  • Assuming Ohio State beats Penn State this week, the Buckeyes will enter with a 20-game winning streak. They entered the 2009 game with a Big Ten record 16-game road winning streak. In 2011 they were on a more modest 3-game winning streak, but were in control of their destiny to play in the first ever Big Ten title game.
  • Ohio State's second to last road loss in Big Ten play before Purdue Harbor: At Purdue in 2004. Their second to last B1G road loss to date? At Purdue in 2011.
  • Not counting Nebraska, which only entered the Big Ten in 2011, Ohio State has won at every single Big Ten venue since last winning at Purdue in 2007. In fact, it only took until 2010 to do so. Ironically, Purdue was ranked in the 2007 game. It was the last time Purdue was in the top 25.
  • Ohio State is 40-13 on the road in Big Ten play since 2000, but is mysteriously only 2-4 at Purdue. In only one of those losses, 2000, was Purdue ranked at the time.
  • Who very nearly derailed their 2002 National Title? Purdue, losing 10-6 on a late fourth down TD pass.
  • Urban Meyer is 19-0 at Ohio State, but the closest to a loss he has come is last year's 29-22 overtime win in Columbus where Purdue was the better team for 59 minutes, only to blow it in the final minute of regulation.
  • What head coach in the Big Ten would know Ohio State better than former OSU assistant head coach Darrell Hazell, now head coach at Purdue.
  • Purdue has won two in a row at home against Ohio State, with the last sometimes called a false Purdue Harbor. It really isn't a surprise to beat a 6-7 Ohio State team.
  • The OSU quarterback in the last two losses has been a mobile QB with sometimes questionable passing that Purdue has surprisingly held in check rushing-wise and dared to throw. It worked. In 2011 Braxton Miller only rushed for 43 yards on 16 carries. In 2009 Terrelle Pryor had 21 carries for 34 yards. Both had a touchdown, but they were far below their season averages.
  • Miller is back, but last year had his worst game of the season with only 47 yards rushing and 113 passing on 9 of 20 attempts before leaving the game with an injury. He played three quarters, so it is not like Purdue built a lead without him there. In fact, Purdue was far worse against backup Kenny Guiton.
  • In 2009 it was Ryan Kerrigan who had a big day. In 2011 it was Kawann Short with three sacks. Both were instrumental in the wins. Does that mean Bruce Gaston or Ryan Russell is next? Gaston is an NFL-caliber defensive lineman, just as Kerrigan and Short were.
  • Purdue has a roster largely intact from a team that nearly won in Columbus last year. These guys are not afraid of Ohio State, no matter the ranking. That is the first step.

The final fact is that absolutely no one in their right mind would give Purdue a chance, which is exactly what happened in 2009. Even that 2009 Purdue team had the luxury of a handful of close losses to an almost identical schedule to now. This Purdue team has looked far worse and this Ohio State team far better. For whatever reason, be it lethargy, apathy, overlooking the Boilers, the visitors locker room is built over an Indian Burial ground of a tribe force to Indiana by the original white settlers of Ohio, or anything, Ohio State struggles mightily when they come to Ross-Ade.

There is no logical excuse for it. Ohio State shouldn't have as much trouble when they come to Purdue, but they do and have for almost a decade and a half now when every other locale in the Big Ten has been much easier. This Buckeye team should absolutely be favored by about 30 points, but we have sent hat it doesn't matter. Purdue finds a way to put the fear of God into them when no one else can.

Yes, it is likely wishful thinking. I fully expect Ohio State to cruise to an easy win on November 2nd because they are a much better team than Purdue. You cannot deny history, however. If it were one or two incidents it could be dismissed, but we're talking 14 seasons and four different OSU head coaches in that time. All it takes is a game staying close for a little longer than expected for things to start tumbling down that road again.

It is probably why they successfully lobbied for Purdue's inclusion into the West Division. If Purdue shocks the world next Saturday the Buckeyes will be relieved to only see us once between now and 2020.

Of course, there is always the Big Ten Championship game...