This week's opponent looks like a gross mismatch for our Boilermakers. Purdue is coming in with a banged-up defense where Bruce Gaston, Ryan Russell, and Ricardo Allen are all battling nagging injuries and they now have to face the most dynamic offensive player in the conference. In my Q&A with SB Nation's Luke Zimmermann of Land-Grant Holy Land you can see that the Buckeye have plenty of confidence as a result going into Saturday.
T-Mill: Points haven't been a problem for Ohio State, but giving up 49 to Indiana (whose offense is legit good) is a concern. What's wrong?
Luke: The defensive woes are overstated. 14 points last week came in garbage time against a worn down, mentally checked out unit with serious depth (see: injury) issues. Just two weeks ago they held Michigan State to a reasonable amount of yards and just 16 points (1 TD), but because they gave up a bunch of points (a lot contextually when circumstances didn't really matter) against some decent offenses, it's all of the sudden a train wreck? The calls for Luke Fickell's job are absurd (as of yet), and I think with a bunch of less effective offenses more catered to the make up of their defense, regression to the mean is about to happen con gusto.
T-Mill: How has the evolution of Braxton Miller helped and is the Ohio State offense more than just him now?
Luke: It's meant everything. Who'd have thought that last year's Michigan game would represent a preview of things to come? But in an offense even more catered to his particular skill set and with actual flesh and blood offensive coaches, it's been a revelation. I wouldn't go as far to say that the offensive responsibility is more evenly distributed yet (Miller is still very much the catalyst, especially for the big play), but every time backup quarterback Kenny Guiton has gone in when Miller was shaken up, the offense hasn't skipped a beat.
T-Mill: Ohio State has struggled greatly against Purdue in West Lafayette since 2000, losing four of six. Why is this?
Luke: Because Purdue is cursed. Nah, I'd say small sample size, but 4/6 is starting to go beyond that. I think it's just been a perfect storm where all the factors have lined up just right contextually each time, albeit in differing circumstances. Because that's spread over a decade plus, it's definitely more coincidence than anything. It's still frustrating as hell from an Ohio State fan perspective.
T-Mill: With the mess that Purdue has been the last two weeks is there really any reason to fear the Boilermakers, especially since the game is not in the bizarre vortex of West Lafayette that makes OSU mortal?
Luke: I think given Ohio State (and the team for that matter)'s lofty ambitions, every game is a fresh opportunity to be paranoid and insecure. Purdue hasn't looked like world beaters in the last several weeks, but that doesn't mean they aren't still dangerous. If Ohio State plays like a team looking ahead or being overconfident and Purdue is firing on all cylinders, anything's possible.
T-Mill: What are the chances that Ohio State goes unbeaten and wins the AP National title?
Luke: Ohio State should be favored in each of their remaining games with Michigan on paper representing the biggest threat. If Michigan's defense keeps progressing, that could be a real war. I'm a bit rusty on my multidimensional data projections, but I'll pull a wild out of my rear guess and say 37% chance to go unbeaten, 0% chance to win an AP national title. There's no way given the caliber of their opponents, unless Ohio State routs everyone from here on out that there's even any sentiment for that.