Ohio State football: 6 reasons why Michigan State can't 'Purdue' the Buckeyes
Ohio State is a massive favorite this weekend at Michigan State. But the Buckeyes fan base can be forgiven if there’s just a tiny bit of fear of being “Purdued.”
How did Purdue become a verb? Well, 2018 is how. Ohio State, 7-0 and No. 2 in the nation, played a ho-hum road game against an unranked Purdue team … and got blasted, 49-20. It was Ohio State’s only loss of the year, but it was a bad enough loss to keep the Buckeyes out of the College Football Playoff.
To be honest, getting Purdued is probably the only way OSU could be outside the CFP this year. Lose a game to, say, Penn State or Michigan, and the Buckeyes are probably still in the B1G title game, and even if not, would have a pretty clear path to the Playoff. One loss doesn’t sink OSU. Didn’t last year, probably wouldn’t this year. Unless the Buckeyes get Purdued.
Northwestern seems an unlikely suspect, and by the time Ohio State goes to Maryland on Nov. 19, the Terps are probably running through the motions of the season. And Michigan State, well, they were the No. 7 team when Ohio State hosted them in the penultimate game of 2021. They have been mayhem-makers in the Big Ten, not unlike Purdue. But here’s why Ohio State is pretty much Purdue-proofed, at least for this game.
1) David Blough is not walking through that door.
The veteran Purdue QB passed for 378 yards and 3 scores in that 2018 game that OSU would rather forget. On the other hand, Payton Thorne of Michigan State is … kinda okay? He’s 10th of the 14 B1G starting quarterbacks in QB rating, and his 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions don’t exactly scream big game. Even a year ago, when he was playing much better, Ohio State held Thorne to 158 passing yards and a sub-40% completion mark.
2) Neither is Rondale Moore.
The victory over Ohio State was kind of a big-time breakthrough for Moore. Yeah, he caught a lot of passes in Purdue’s dink-and-dunk offense, but 12 catches for 170 yards and 2 scores against Ohio State couldn’t be ignored. Turned out that Moore was an NFL talent. This Michigan State team doesn’t have that kind of big-play star. The Spartans’ top receiver, Keon Coleman, had a combined 10 catches for 72 yards in MSU’s losses to Minnesota and Maryland. Not exactly an indication of the kind of game that will send the Ohio State secondary reeling.
3) Ohio State won’t be outrushed.
A hidden key to Purdue’s 2018 dominance is that the Boilermakers actually outrushed the Buckeyes, 161-76. It probably helped that Ohio State threw 73 passes that day. Anyway, won’t happen with Michigan State. The Spartans have 180 rushing yards … in their last 3 games combined. Meanwhile, Ohio State has rushed for over 250 yards in each of the past 3 games. There’s a trend here, and it’s not one that bodes well for Michigan State.
4) No turnover X factor
Admittedly, Ohio State’s -1 turnover margin against Purdue in 2018 probably wasn’t the difference in the game. The Buckeyes threw a pick, but didn’t force any turnovers. On the other hand, this Michigan State team has no interceptions. All season. They’re one of 4 FBS teams yet to pick off a pass this year and have only forced a single fumble in the past 3 games combined. The Spartans have given the ball away 8 times themselves, while Ohio State has a total of 4 turnovers in 5 games played. In any case, even the -1 Purdue pulled is unlikely, and State would probably need Ohio State to go -2 or -3 in turnover margin to have a shot.
5) Ohio State hasn’t started slowly
That 2018 Purdue game was 14-3 Purdue at halftime. Ohio State has outscored opponents 84-20 in the first quarter this season, and in fact, has scored more points in the first quarter this year than they have allowed in the entire games played. That 2018 Ohio State defense showed some warning signs, but that hasn’t been applicable to the 2022 squad.
6) No red-zone woes
Purdue managed the red zone brilliantly in its 2018 upset, scoring 3 touchdowns in 3 red zone trips and holding Ohio State to 2 touchdowns and 2 field goals in 5 red zone trips. That Buckeyes team had red zone issues, finishing 13th in the B1G in red zone scoring rate. This team does not. Ohio State’s 25 red zone trips have yielded 23 touchdowns and a pair of field goals. Meanwhile, this OSU defense has allowed just 4 touchdowns (and 5 field goals) in 10 defensive red zone possessions. Michigan State has been average in red zone offense and defense, so it’s another Purdueing point that’s pretty much moot.