Instant analysis: Ohio State 29, Purdue 22
October, 20, 2012
By Austin Ward | ESPN.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The undefeated season is intact.
But Ohio State might have suffered a pretty big loss at quarterback in the process.
Braxton Miller left the game late in the third quarter and was transported to the hospital, and the Buckeyes couldn’t muster anything on offense without the sophomore in a gritty 29-22 overtime win over Purdue on Saturday at Ohio Stadium that tested the resolve of Urban Meyer's program.
And another big challenge could be coming depending on the health of his star sophomore.
It was over when: The last pass of the game flew out of the back of the end zone in overtime, falling incomplete on fourth-and-5 and finally allowing Ohio State to exhale. The Buckeyes were pushed to the max, needing a last-second touchdown to even force the extra session before delivering a critical stop with its beleaguered defense on the final drive.
Game ball goes to: Kenny Guiton only added to his reputation as the ultimate closer off the bench. While the backup quarterback wasn't instantly effective -- as he was in the opportunities when Miller was briefly injured in the past three games -- Guiton delivered when it mattered most with the perfect season on the line, leading an impressive drive in the final minute and capping it with a two-point conversion pass to Jeff Heuerman that forced overtime in what had looked to be a lost cause.
Stat of the game: Among the worst rushing defenses in the Big Ten, Purdue put together a solid scheme to slow down Miller and held him to just 47 yards on 12 carries with a lost fumble before he left the game with an injury late in the third quarter -- with 37 coming on his last attempt.
How the game was won: The Buckeyes had to dig deeper than they have all season, but they still found a way to keep their record perfect as the passing game picked up some of the slack for a surprisingly ineffective ground attack. Chris Fields provided a spark as a receiver, including the diving touchdown catch that extended the game in the fourth quarter after not making a catch all season coming into the game.
What it means: A Heisman Trophy campaign could be on hold for a bit, but an undefeated season remains a possibility for the Buckeyes. The trick for them will be finding a way to respond with a banged-up defense and uncertainty with their most valuable player on offense moving forward as they shift their attention to a tough road trip to Penn State.
Purdue, meanwhile had its flickering chances of contending in the Leaders Division extinguished despite an impressive outing overall, showing life with its defense that could make it a tougher out down the road.