Ohio State suffered a horrific loss Saturday, falling to Purdue 49-20. This loss seemed imminent as each week Ohio State was crippled with the same problems. These same problems that were exposed all game Saturday. The lack of a run game, allowing big plays on defense, and undisciplined penalties. Whatever could go wrong, did go wrong for the Buckeyes. Meanwhile, on the other side, Purdue’s head coach Jeff Brohm cooked up a near perfect game plan to pull off the upset. Ohio State got blatantly out coached all game. If they want to turn this season around and compete for a Big Ten championship many adjustments will have to be made.
Perhaps the largest problem for Ohio State is their tendency to allow big plays on defense. This was especially exposed during the fourth quarter, where Purdue managed to score four touchdowns of 40 or more yards against the Buckeyes defense. A large amount of the blame should fall on the shoulders of defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and linebackers coach Billy Davis. Since Greg Schiano took control of the defense back in 2016 it has steadily regressed. In 2016 Ohio State ranked third in scoring defense allowing only 15.5 points per game, and 4.3 yards per play. Flashforward to today, and Ohio State is now allowing 22.9 points per game and 5.6 yards per play. The linebacker group has been especially weak this year. Constantly big plays are allowed because opposing running backs and receivers are getting past them and into the second level. If there are not significant improvements made over the course of the next few weeks this could be the end of the relationship between Ohio State, Schiano, and Davis.
Another huge problem Ohio State has is its lack of a run game. On Saturday, quarterback Dwayne Haskins was forced to throw the ball 73 times. Despite Haskins’ incredible talent, this is an unacceptable amount, and will not win Ohio State many games. Ever since the return of Urban Meyer Ohio States play calling has changed significantly, including the limited rushing attempts. Week one vs. Oregon State, Ohio State ran the ball 52 times for 375 yards. The number of attempts and yards has gone down nearly every week leading to an embarrassing 76 yards on 25 attempts Saturday. Ohio State needs to become a more balanced offense starting against Nebraska two weeks from now. They need to establish the run early, and stick with it even if it is not working right away. Dwayne Haskins is an extremely talented quarterback, but the entirety of the offense cannot fall on his shoulders.
Lastly, Ohio State’s lack of discipline was on full display yet again, committing ten penalties for 86 yards. Several of these penalties coming on third and fourth down allowing Purdue to continue their drives. Arguably the most crucial of all these penalties came in the third quarter. After Ohio State drove down the field for a field goal to make it a 14-6 game they were able to force a Purdue punt. However, on the punt, Ohio State was charged with a roughing the punter penalty, advancing the ball 15 yards forward giving Purdue a first down. Just four plays later, Purdue found the end zone making it 21-6. Throughout the whole season Ohio State has struggled with penalties. Each game they have committed more or the same amount of penalties as their opponents. This comes down to a lack of discipline installed in them by the coaching staff. Urban and the rest of the staff has tolerated mindless penalties all year and nothing has changed.
Overall, Ohio State has a lot of work to do before their next game against Nebraska. Conveniently, they have a bye this week, and will get two whole weeks to improve on their weaknesses. Losing to Purdue is a hard pill to swallow, but ultimately Ohio State still controls their own destiny in terms of winning the Big Ten. They still have at least two premiere games against Michigan State and Michigan to boost their resume for the college football playoff as well. Ohio State has many problems, but they fixable, and if they can fix them, Ohio State will be playing in Indianapolis during the first weekend of December.