WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — Every week, it has been the same issues that have bogged down Ohio State’s defense.
The pass rush has been noticeably weaker since junior defensive end Nick Bosa went down with an injury and decided to leave the program to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft, and the second line of defense has been prone to giving up big plays.
Along with the big plays, Ohio State has looked vulnerable on slant routes and the run-pass option with teams featuring high-powered offenses.
But every week, the Buckeyes found a way to come out on top, usually winning by multiple scores.
On Saturday, facing a top 10 offense, Ohio State had these same problems, and Purdue destroyed the Buckeyes in a 49-20 beatdown that saw the defensive flaws turn into complete breakdowns, which allowed the Boilermakers to bully their defense for nearly the entirety of the game.
Redshirt senior quarterback David Blough torched Ohio State’s secondary, throwing for 378 yards and three touchdowns. Redshirt senior running back D.J. Knox did much of the same, breaking two runs of 40 yards or more to ice the game late, finishing with 128 yards and three touchdowns.
Freshman wide receiver Rondale Moore, the threat that everyone expected to cause Ohio State problems, caused Ohio State problems, ending the day with 12 catches for 170 yards and two scores.
Junior safety Jordan Fuller said Moore is a “good player” with a “bright future,” and that he has no words for what went wrong against the Boilermakers on Saturday.
“I really can’t even give you that answer right now,” Fuller said. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Everything people predicted would fall apart for the Ohio State defense did, and in dramatic fashion, as the Buckeyes allowed 539 yards of total offense and 42 of the 49 points in the losing effort.
With a defense that has shown so many problems over the course of the season, a major change may be necessary with Michigan and Michigan State still on the schedule.
Head coach Urban Meyer said a rework of the defense this late in the season is not ideal moving forward.
“A bye week gives you a little bit of time, but you’re … Week 8, 9, you’re into it now,” Meyer said. “There’s some serious shortcomings right now that we gotta get fixed.”
Early on, Ohio State looked to be turning a corner, forcing two Purdue punts to start the game while getting consistent pressure to Blough throughout the first quarter. Then, the Buckeyes allowed a 15-play, 98-yard drive to get the Boilermakers on the board and ahead 7-0.
Purdue would not give up that lead for the rest of the game.
Everything Ohio State has failed to improve on through various scares and closer-than-expected games was put on absolute display at the hands of Purdue, and it led to a 29-point defeat that could diminish the Buckeyes’ chances at a title run.
The Boilermakers had four plays of 30 yards or more, bringing the total to 25 against the Ohio State defense this season. Moore killed the linebackers and safeties through the middle of the field, beating them mostly with his quickness. After starting out strong, the defensive line eventually was shut down and held without a sack in the second half.
For anyone who has watched Ohio State this season, all these issues do not come as a surprise: they seem to happen in nearly every single game.
But this time, the Buckeyes happened to run into an offense that could fully exploit their flaws, and they are left at the wrong end of a blowout because of it.
“My main message moving forward is back to treating this like it’s life or death,” redshirt senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin said. “That type of mentality, where you are going into battle or someone is trying to knock you off. If you don’t come ready to go, this happens.”
The Ohio State defense has not looked ready for war at many points in the season, constantly falling back on old tendencies.
The solution all year for the Buckeyes has been to do nothing and see if time will heal all wounds.
Now, with a “1” in the loss column and hopes of a successful season fleeting, Ohio State has a bye week to fix these mistakes that have plagued them on the defensive end for eight-straight weeks.
For now, Ohio State must look back at its game against Purdue as a showcase for everything wrong the defense has done to this point.