Ohio State football not only lost Saturday night at Purdue — the Buckeyes were blasted by the Boilermakers.
A wild fourth quarter turned a run-of-the-mill upset into a laugher, leaving Ohio State with more questions than answers.
Few of the questions were new, though.
1. Ohio State remained mistake-prone.
The Buckeyes set the tone when the offense picked up two flags on its first two plays of the game.
The special teams picked up the slack with a roughing-the-punter penalty that continued a Purdue touchdown drive.
The defense got in on the act with a roughing-the-passer penalty that also gave the Boilermakers a third-down conversion on another touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
All in all, 10 penalties were accepted against the Buckeyes for 86 yards.
“That’s not the first – we had a handful of them a couple games ago and that’s been an issue this year,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “The one – the punt, to run into the punter, that’s one of those ones you just – I can’t remember the score at the time – but I think it was still within (striking distance). … Just not very disciplined and I think they’re effort penalties, but just ridiculous.”
Beyond that, the Buckeyes continued to miss tackles and blocks, both recurring problems all season.
2. The red zone was a disaster.
Ohio State entered the game 91st in red zone offense.
The Buckeyes are almost certain to drop next week after they went 2 for 5 with no touchdowns inside the 20-yard line this time around.
Ohio State had to settle for field goals of 24 and 23 yards from Blake Haubeil, who missed one from 33 yards. The Buckeyes also were stopped on downs after reaching the 2-yard line in the third quarter, and the clock ran out in the fourth quarter with them on the 17-yard line.
“You’ve got to score points,” Meyer said. “We’ve never had this issue, so we’re going to get a real thorough evaluation of that and the big plays on defense.”
3. The running game continued to struggle.
After amassing 600 yards on the ground in their first two games, the Buckeyes have had a much harder time getting anything going there.
They managed only 76 yards rushing in West Lafayette, setting a season-low or the second week in a row.
“I look up at the board and I see the rushing yardage again and we’re just gonna, you’ve got to get something going,” Meyer said. “You can’t be under 100 yards. Down the stretch here we’ve got to get some running game.”
The inability to rely on moving the ball with running backs Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins has had a trickle-down effect to the rest of the offense, including the red zone problems.
4. On the bright side, Ohio State’s sophomore quarterback had another record-setting day.
Dwayne Haskins completed 49 of 73 passes for 470 yards, all school records. He eclipsed the 400-yard mark for the third straight week, but he was in no mood to celebrate afterward.
“No, I never thought I would have to throw 72 times for us to win the game, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to win and just didn’t do that today, so we’ve got to figure out what we need to do for Nebraska,” Haskins said.
5. Deja vu?
Cliches are common in sports (and sports writing), but the parallels to a 55-24 loss at Iowa last season were hard to ignore in the immediate aftermath.
In both games, the Ohio State defense at times looked powerless to stop a double-digit underdog.
The OSU offense also suffered key breakdowns — although this time Haskins waited until the end of the game to throw an interception returned for a touchdown while J.T. Barrett did that on the first play in Iowa City.
And in both cases, the Buckeyes just looked like a shell of themselves when it was over.
“I thought we were gonna come out here and play our tails off, and I think we had the opportunities to get right back in it,” Meyer said. “Every time I thought we were going to swing and get back in it, we wouldn’t score in the red zone or have a turnover or give up a big hit.”