WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Lessons from No. 4 Ohio State’s 56-0 blowout victory over Purdue on Saturday afternoon at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The motivation is still there: Offensive tackle Jack Mewhort was concerned enough about the focus of his teammates as they prepared for an overmatched opponent that he addressed it with his coach earlier in the week. Both the captain and Urban Meyer were apparently able to get through to the Buckeyes, who had no problem jumping on Purdue early and never letting up. Given Ohio State’s slim margin for error in the hunt for a national championship, Mewhort and the rest of the veterans clearly are aware that one slip-up would be costly as they try to go out on top. And the way the Buckeyes handled their business against the Boilermakers suggests the leaders are having their voices heard loud and clear.
The QB combo is as strong as ever: Senior Kenny Guiton largely stepped out of the spotlight after Braxton Miller returned from the knee sprain that sidelined him in September, but Guiton is making the most of his opportunities when they do come along. And another productive, efficient outing off the bench only added to the conversation about whether the Buckeyes have not only the best one-two punch at quarterback in the Big Ten, but whether or not they might have the two best quarterbacks in the league, period. Guiton rushed for 98 yards and two scores, completing 8 of his 11 throws for 59 yards and another touchdown, and for the second week in a row, the Buckeyes showed off a formation that included both Guiton and Miller at the same time. Miller clearly is the No. 1 guy for a reason, but the next guy in line continues to provide a lot of security for Meyer and the spread offense.
Getting defensive: The secondary hadn’t been living up to its high standard, but it responded to a public challenge from Meyer by draping themselves all over Purdue receivers. Doran Grant jumped a throw for an interception and returned it for a touchdown on the game's second snap, and Ohio State collectively gave up 89 yards passing. The Buckeyes hadn’t been as aggressive getting after the passer as Meyer wanted, either. The defensive line and a blitz-happy Ryan Shazier again delivered just what the coach was looking for, racking up 10 tackles for loss, six of them sacks, to decimate any plans the Boilermakers had for moving the football. Putting those areas together was a sure-fire formula for a shutout, and it appears the Buckeyes are finally all on the same page defensively.