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Know Thy Opponent 2018: Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State football is going to be very good. Also, water is wet.

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Is another Purdue Harbor in the offing?

We can certainly hope so. Purdue’s early schedule is difficult, but not impossible. The Boilers have a lot of questions to answer, but if Nick Holt plugs some defensive holes with new parts and the Brohmfense gets going full speed we could have a very good start to the year. How good? How about 6-0, 3-0 in the Big Ten when Ohio State comes to town on October 20th?

That would be a lot of fun. If you thought there was hype for last year’s Michigan game, think about a night game with GameDay in town for Ohio State. The last time we saw the Buckeyes they delivered an absolutely unmerciful beating to Darrell Hazell’s first team. The 56-0 score wasn’t even that close. Danny Etling was pick-sixed on the second play from scrimmage. Purdue had 116 yards of total offense and just 10 first downs. The closest we came to the end zone was Ohio State’s 44 yard line, and 40 of the 116 yards gained came in the final two drives against the backups down 56-0. Ohio State could have scored 100 that day if they felt like it.

Five years later we get another shot at the Buckeyes, and the hope is that Jeff Brohm can revive the bizarre hex we have had over them. Since 2000 Purdue has more wins over Ohio State (four) than Michigan (three). In that time Purdue also took a pair of games to overtime in Columbus and had a few more closer-than-expected losses.

The Buckeyes will be the better team in this matchup. That’s just a fact. We have seen that their superior talent has often not mattered over the last 18 years or so.

2017 Record: 12-2, 8-1 Big Ten East (Big Ten Champion)

Bowl Result: Beat USC 24-7 in Cotton Bowl

Blog Representation: Land-Grant Holyland, Eleven Warriors

Series with Purdue: Ohio State leads 39-14-2

Last Purdue win: 26-23 (OT) at Purdue on 11/12/2011

Last Ohio State win: 56-0 at Purdue on 11/2/2013

Head Coach: Urban Meyer (73-8 in 8th season at Ohio State, 177-31 overall)

Last Season for the Buckeyes:

What else is there to say about Ohio State under Urban Meyer? They are a machine, especially when it comes to Big Ten play. They are 47-3 outside of the Big Ten championship game against the rest of the league, losing only to Michigan State in 2015, Penn State in 2016, and Iowa last year. The Iowa game was the only one not decided in the closing minutes, too. The 55-24 thumping was the surprise of college football last season and it ultimately cost the Buckeyes a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Expectations continue to be that high in Columbus. This is another season where it is playoff or bust even after losing long-time starter at quarterback in J.T. Barrett. They are stacked with talent at every position on the field. Most of their backups could come to Purdue and instantly be starters. It really makes for a daunting task, but as we have seen, anything can happen in college football.

Ohio State Offense

Just about the only weakness you can see on the Ohio State roster is at quarterback. Weakness is a pretty relative term, too. Dwayne Haskins, a former top 100 recruit, is expected to take over as the starter. He was 40 of 57 last year for 565 yards and 4 TDs against one interception as a redshirt freshman. He is only a weakness in terms of his inexperience, but in a limited sample size he has been great.

At running back J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber combined to rush for 2,029 yards and 17 TDs. Dobbins, along will Boston College’s A.J. Dillon, will be among the best running backs we see all season. They also get Michael Jordan (all-Big Ten at guard) and Isaiah Prince (Third Team all-Big Ten at tackle) blocking for them. Brandon Bowen and Demetrius Knox also bring starting experience to the offensive line, which will be superb.

When Ohio State feels like passing the ball the speedy Parris Campbell is an instant highlight. He led the team with 40 receptions for 584 yards and 3 TDs, and had his best game in the opener against Indiana. He turned the Hoosier fans’ overrated chant into an instant 74 yard touchdown on sheer blinding speed. The Buckeyes will spread the ball around quite a bit. Johnnie Dixon (18-422-8) and Binjimen Victor (23-349-7) led the team in touchdowns. K.J. Hill (56-549-3) led the team in receptions while Terry McLaurin (29-436-6) was also dangerous.

Ohio State Defense

Even if the Buckeyes had a horrendous defense they have the offense to put up 45 on anyone. They do not have a horrendous defense. This is all you need to know from the SB Nation preview:

There were two shaky moments last year. They couldn’t slow down Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma enough — they gave up 31 points and 6.8 yards per play, which were enough to lose in Columbus but still nearly season lows for the Sooners — and got strangely torched by Iowa’s tight ends and fullbacks in the 55-24 debacle in Iowa City. Take those two games out, and they allowed just 4 yards per play and 15 points per game.

Thanks to injury and graduation Ohio State likely has to replace all three starting linebackers, but they are replacing them with top shelf talent. Malik Harrison, Keandre Jones, and Justin Hilliard enter fall practice as the leading candidates to start. Baron Browning is also a very promising prospect at the position.

Jordan fuller is the leading returner in the back four. He was second on the team with 70 tackles at safety and he added a pair of interceptions. The other three spots need to be filled, however, and the competition is open.

Up front defensively Nick Bosa (16 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks) is one of the best defensive ends in the country. Dre’Mont Jones, Davon Hamilton, and Jashon Cornell will rotate at the tackle spots. They are quite effective at plugging the middle of the field.

Ohio State Special Teams

On special teams all the key contributors are back. In the rare instance where Ohio State has to punt Drue Chrisman averages 44.2 yards per kick. Sean Nuernberger hit on 17 of 21 field goal attempts last season with a long of 44.

In the return game Campbell and Weber are both very dangerous return men. K.J. Hill also handles punt returns at 5.5 yards per return. To me, Campbell with his speed is such as asset on returns. He can immediately erase a score with a good one.

Game Outlook

From a talent standpoint the Buckeyes just look overwhelming, and that is before you consider the coaching prowess. Urban Meyer is one of the best in America and his top assistants are both accomplished former head coaches. All that talent is going to get maximized, and that is why the worst season under Meyer has been 11-2. Any loss he has is monumental.

I know Purdue Harbor is the in vogue thing to mention here, but only the 2012 team came close to a win over Meyer. I think this Purdue team, playing at home, is better than that Purdue team, but this Ohio state team is a lot better (and yes, I know the Buckeyes went 12-0 in 2012). Ohio State expects to play for a national championship every year. If not, it is a disappointment. Purdue’s best chance is to hope they have an off game like at Iowa last season.

Way-too-Early Prediction

I am sure coach Brohm will have something cooked up for the Buckeyes. Since this is the 7th game of the season we also will know some answers in regards to who is starting and who is not defensively. That said, it is going to take a monumental effort to win this one. I think it will be a bit like Michigan last year. We keep it close for a half, but Ohio State pulls away to win comfortably in the second half. Ohio State 45, Purdue 24