The 2021 season didn’t quite start as planned for No. 6 Ohio State.

After the first two weeks, there were plenty of questions about whether the Buckeyes defense was going to perform well enough to keep them in contention for a College Football Playoff nod. During their opener with Minnesota, the Buckeyes allowed the Gophers to tally 31 points and were behind in the second half before the offense bailed them out.

But of late, the Ohio State defense has been getting it done. During last week’s 26-17 win over Nebraska, they held the Huskers to a season-low 361 yards of total offense. Nebraska entered the game second in the B1G in total offense and fourth in scoring.

Buckeyes safety Ronnie Hickman and defensive end Tyreke Smith split the defensive player of the game honors for the win over Nebraska. Hickman had seven tackles, along with a pass breakup and a sack. But on the season, Hickman has been a tackling machine, leading the Buckeyes defense with 74 tackles. The nearest OSU defender to his total is linebacker Cody Simon with 44.

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day recognizes Hickman as the leader of the Buckeyes charge on defense.

The Buckeyes defense will look to hold off a hungry Purdue team this weekend, who have already upset Iowa and Michigan State this season. The Boilermakers will head to Columbus to take on Ohio State on Saturday, Nov. 13 for a 2:30 PM kickoff.

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