Thursday, October 31, 2013

GAME PREVIEW: DON'T LOOK FOR ANY UPSETS IN WEST LAFAYETTE

Urban Meyer is 20-0 as the head coach at Ohio State. He'll look to extend that on Saturday in West LaFayette. (AP)
COLUMBUS — Some may look at this Saturday's game at struggling Purdue as a de facto bye week for the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten).

Nobody in the OSU locker room should be viewing it that way, though. In fact, out of the (nation's best) 20 consecutive victories the Buckeyes have accrued over the past two seasons, it's the Boilermakers who have come the closest to putting a kibosh on their perfect run.

Last season in Columbus, the Buckeyes needed a touchdown and a two-point conversion with no time on the clock to force overtime against the Boilermakers — where they eventually went on to win, 29-22. 

In 2002, the Buckeyes needed a hailmary touchdown pass on fourth down to beat Purdue, 10-6, in West LaFayette. They went on to win the national championship that season.

However, the Boilers have also played spoilers. 

In 2009, Ohio State went into Ross-Ade Stadium ranked seventh in the country and was sent back to Columbus in defeat by the hands of a lowly 1-5 Purdue squad, who were winless in the Big Ten.

Not much has changed in four years. Ohio State is ranked fourth in the BCS, while Purdue is 1-6 and winless in conference.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer admitted on Monday, during his weekly media luncheon, that he doesn't know what to expect from the Boilermakers this Saturday afternoon.

"I have not watched their offense yet," Meyer said. "I've watched their defense. They changed — they were a 4-3 defense about three weeks ago before the Nebraska game. They changed completely. They're now 3-4. Means they're just going through some personnel issues and scheme issues.

"We're just still trying to figure out what we're going to see Saturday because it's completely different from the first half of the season until now."

What we do know is, the Buckeyes are looking every bit the part of a title contender, scoring nearly 50 points per game in their second season under the tutelage of Meyer. 

In last Saturday night's tilt against Penn State in Columbus, the Buckeyes put on an absolute clinic, generating a 63-point, 686-yard offensive explosion that sent shock waves throughout the college football world.

And it all started with junior quarterback Braxton Miller, who posted another one of his school-record 300-plus yard games, as well as five total touchdowns.

Meyer said Miller is exceeding even his expectations right now.

"Fundamentally, he's a much better player than he was a year ago and his knowledge of the offense," Meyer said of Miller. "Those two things, I see it every day ...

"In the same (offense), same coach, same system for two years you should be better. But he's really better. I anticipated he would be better. He's better than better."

Not bad for a player who was nearly benched a month ago after playing uncharacteristically against Northwestern.

Meyer said that was definitely a good motivator for the star quarterback.

"I don't think it's coincidence," Meyer said about Miller's play since almost being pulled for backup Kenny Guiton on Oct. 5. "I think he knows and I've told him that — it's maybe a little more complex than that — if our center doesn't play well we're going to make a change if we have a good center behind him. And you see that in some other positions that as guys improve, we're going to make a change.

"And he knows that. He's not used to being second fiddle, his high school and college career so far. I love him to death; he's like a son to me. We get along great. But he knows I have a job to do and that's to make sure the best players are on the field."

Meyer — who has a master's degree in psychology — apparently knew what he was doing, because ever since that night in Evanston, Miller has been magical, averaging 322 yards and four touchdowns per game, while completing his passes at a ridiculous 78-percent clip.

Meyer said that the motivational tactic doesn't stop at Miller.

"You come to Ohio State to start and the good thing is when you recruit fairly well, they know there's a guy right behind you," Meyer said. "If you want to go take a few plays off there will be someone else in there. That's when you start getting a good program. And right now the certain positions playing the best, it's not by accident."

Bottom Line

Because of that philosophy, Ohio State will not be playing the Boilermakers this weekend, but in essence, themselves.

Purdue will be victims of collateral damage.

Lee's prediction: OSU 63-7