The Purdue Boilermakers were ready for today's game against the Ohio State Buckeyes. It was evidenced early in the game by the way Purdue held Ohio State to four three and outs in the first quarter, never allowing the Buckeyes out of their own territory. Ohio State finally made some headway in the second quarter when Braxton Miller completed a pass to Jordan Hall for a 38 yard score. It was Hall's third catch of the season.
Last week against Indiana, it seemed as if Ohio State suffered a hangover from the win over Wisconsin that they finally shook at the end of the game to get the win. Apparently, two wins in a row was all the Buckeyes could muster after the recent NCAA charges against the school causing a distraction for the players on the field.
The offensive line looked awful throughout the game and the defense's inability to tackle reared its ugly head, eventually allowing Purdue to get in the end zone in overtime for the win. But that's not even the biggest question of the game. The biggest question of the game is why didn't Luke Fickell take a shot down the field when the Buckeyes got the ball back with 16 seconds left on the clock? Ohio State defensive back Orhian Johnson intercepted the ball at the Buckeyes 22 when it seemed as if Purdue was going to put the game away. Instead of trying to get down the field and kick a field goal, Luke Fickell opted to let the clock run out and head into overtime.
That was by far the worst decision that Fickell & Co. could have made. The defense looked unorganized and lethargic throughout the entire game. The offense couldn't get anything going either, even with 20 points already on the board. So why did the coaching staff think that overtime was a good decision for the Buckeyes? The protection that Miller received during the game was the same in overtime: nonexistent. The defense played in overtime the way they did during the game: without energy. And it came back to bite them.
The Big Ten Championship game is officially out of the picture for Ohio State, and Luke Fickell's tenure as head coach will probably be short lived. Even if Ohio State wins out, and Penn State and Wisconsin both lose their next two games, the numbers do not work in the Buckeyes favor.
The Buckeyes lack of consistency on the field this season shows that they are distracted and no matter what Fickell is trying to do, his team isn't focused. Not only that, but it's possible that they're no longer buying into his system. The offensive issues are in large part due to the play calling by Jim Bollman. Buckeye fans have been calling for his head since the loss to Miami in week three. His lousy play calling showed it's teeth again today as the Buckeyes continued to try the same plays against Purdue that the Boilermakers were clearly prepared for. Ohio State was very transparent today, and honestly didn't look like the same team we've seen in the last two games.
To put it in perspective, last week Ohio State had three rushers with over 100 yards. This week, the team as a whole had 163 yards on the ground. Do you think that Purdue knew Ohio State wanted to keep it on the ground? Of course they did. Purdue swallowed Dan Herron every time he touched the ball. So pass plays needed to be called that would work, and Miller's protection needed to hold up. But none of that happened.
This team has a ton of talent and potential, but they're young. They need coaches who can tap into that potential and make it blossom. They need a play caller who understands how to make adjustments so that the team can gain momentum and energy. It's very deflating to struggle to get things going, and defeating when the offense does something well but the defense allows the other team to stay in the game. The coaching staff has got to figure something out before next season. They have two games left this season to work on it, and if nothing changes, Ohio State may clean house.
Next week, the Buckeyes host Penn State on 3:30pm before heading to Michigan on November 26. Hopefully, the team that showed up against Wisconsin will be the team that shows up in the next two games. If not, at least Buckeye fans have basketball to look forward to.
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