It’s time to seriously reconsider how good Ohio State is.
All of the No. 2 Buckeyes’ flaws were on display in a 49-20 loss at Purdue on Saturday night. The game not only potentially throws the Big Ten East in the direction of archrival Michigan but blows a hole into the idea that Ohio State is a College Football Playoff-caliber team.
Ohio State could not run the ball at all on Saturday night. Purdue, a team that entered the game allowing 147 rushing yards per game, held Ohio State to 62 yards on 23 carries. It was the fourth-straight game where Ohio State averaged fewer than four yards a carry.
The Buckeye defense had given up a lot of big plays through the first half of the season. It couldn’t stop Purdue’s offense as QB David Blough threw for 378 yards and star freshman Rondale Moore was once again a major factor. Moore had 12 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns and gained a key first down on an end-around in the fourth quarter.
Purdue’s aggressiveness paid off too. The Boilermakers faked a field goal late in the second quarter leading 7-3. The fake got a first down and led to a touchdown for a 14-3 halftime lead. Ohio State pulled within 14-6 but Purdue immediately scored on its next possession to push the lead to 21-6. Ohio State never stood a chance after that.
Ohio State got within 15 again at 28-13 but Purdue simply pushed the Ohio State defense around on its next drive. Purdue went 75 yards in five running plays, capped off by a 40-yard TD run by RB D.J. Knox. It was Knox’s third rushing touchdown of the day.
A championship-caliber defense would have probably put up a little more resistance. Even with All-American defensive end Nick Bosa healthy, Ohio State’s defense showed a few cracks. Without Bosa, now off preparing for the NFL, those cracks look like gaps. Purdue racked up over 500 yards of offense.
Dwayne Haskins was not the problem
Haskins didn’t have his greatest game Saturday night. But he was far from Ohio State’s biggest flaw. Haskins threw for 468 yards and 2 touchdowns on an astonishing 48-of-72 passing. His Heisman candidacy is still alive, though that’s of little consolation for an Ohio State for an Ohio State team that conceded favorite status in the Big Ten East to archrival Michigan.
The lasting moment for Haskins, however, will be a poor pick-six that he threw late in the game to put Purdue up five scores. It’s of little consolation, but the game was already out of hand at that point.
Iowa Part Two?
Ohio State missed out on the College Football Playoff a year ago in large part because of a blowout loss to Iowa. The Buckeyes won the Big Ten and finished with an 11-2 record but were the No. 5 team in the final playoff rankings. It’s easy to see how this game plays the role of Iowa in 2018.
With games against Michigan State and Michigan remaining, the Buckeyes still control their own destiny in the East. But if you’re confident about the playoff right now you’re an extremely optimistic person.
Maybe everything that could go wrong simply did go wrong and Ohio State’s actually a top-five football team. Or maybe Purdue was the game that exposed a Buckeye team that breaks too often on defense and can’t run the ball. It’s hard to argue for the former right now.
– – – – – – –
Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• NBA, NBPA at odds over one-and-done rule
• Exclusive: Mike Leach called out Pac-12 officiating via texts
• Odell Beckham Jr. explains why he doesn’t like water
• Astros’ Altuve reportedly undergoes knee surgery