Ohio State football: 6 things to know about Purdue

Buckeyes face Boilermakers at noon on Saturday in West Lafeytte, Ind.

Ohio State is set to close out the first half of the regular season with a trip to Purdue on Saturday.

While the third-ranked Buckeyes (5-0) look to remain undefeated, Purdue will be trying to get closer to .500 on the season.

Here are five things to know about the Boilermakers:

1. Purdue is 2-4 in its first season under coach Ryan Walters.

The Boilermakers opened the season with a 39-35 loss to Fresno State then won at Virginia Tech 24-17.

They followed that up with a 35-20 loss at home to Syracuse then were pounded at home by Wisconsin 38-17.

Purdue bounced back with a somewhat surprising 44-19 blowout win over Illinois before losing at Iowa 20-14 last week.

2. Walters is a first-time head coach.

At 37, Walters entered the season as the eighth-youngest head coach in the FBS.

He was hired in December after helping Illinois be one of the best defenses in college football last season.

Prior to that, the Colorado graduate spent six seasons at Missouri.

“When I first arrived, my message to them was that I need to learn what it’s like to be a Purdue Boilermaker,” Walter said at Big Ten Media Days in July. “They’ve obviously had success at Purdue. They played in the Big Ten Championship game a year ago. It’s my job to get to know them and build trust with them. I think in turn they recognize the authenticity. They recognize the approach and as a result they’ve embraced us and have done everything we’ve asked them to do with maximum effort.”

3. The Boilermakers are still a pass-first team.

While Walters is a defensive man, he hired Graham Harrell to run his offense.

Harrell is a former Texas Tech quarterback who played for Mike Leach, one of the head coaches who popularized the Air Raid offense early this century.

“Graham has been awesome,” Walters said in July. “I knew being a defensive coach and having my background the way it is and the history that Purdue has had offensively, I knew it was important for me to hire an offensive coordinator that would be able to attract quarterbacks and offensive skill guys. Graham was a no-brainer. He’s been a home run thus far. Obviously, we haven’t played a down of competitive football, but I’ve been really impressed with his approach to teaching and to motivating and holding everybody accountable on the offensive side.”

The Boilermakers rank 72nd nationally in total offense (390.3 yards per game) and 87th in scoring (25.7 points per game)

Hudson Card, a transfer from Texas, is second in the Big Ten in passing yards (1,491) but just 10th in yards per completion (10.96).

4. The defense isn’t there yet.

The Boilermakers are 76th in total defense (380.3 ypg.) and 83rd in scoring defense (28.0 ppg.), but they are 40th in pass efficiency defense.

Purdue has two of the Big Ten’s top 10 tacklers in Dillon Thieneman and Sanoussi Kane, who have 53 and 42 tackles, respectively.

Thieneman is also second in the Big Ten with three interceptions while Kydran Jenkins leads the Big Ten with .67 sacks per game and Marquis Wilson is third in the Big Ten with 1.2 pass break-ups per game.

Advanced statistics reveal Purdue’s main issue has been allowing big plays. The Boilers are 111th in defensive explosiveness but 44th in success rate, which measures efficiency in moving the ball from play to play based on down and distance.

5. Ohio State leads 41-15-2, but the Boilermakers have won five of the 14 meetings since 2000.

The Buckeyes have won nine in a row at Ohio State but lost three of the last four at Purdue, including a stunning 49-20 loss in their last trip in 2018.

The Boilermakers also beat the Buckeyes in 2000, 2004, 2009 and ‘11.

In 2002, the Buckeyes escaped with a 10-6 victory thanks to the “Holy Buckeye” touchdown pass from Craig Krenzel to Michael Jenkins, and they won comfortably in 2007 (23-7) and 2013 (56-0).

Ohio State is 14-10 in West Lafayette since their first trip in 1923.

6. Purdue has four players from Ohio, including Ben Van Noord.

Van Noord is a third-year sophomore receiver from Springfield who joined the program as a walk-in 2021.

He was a standout football and baseball player at Northwestern High School who finished his prep career at Springfield, where he was fourth in the GWOC with 539 receiving yards in 2020.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder has seen action in three games during his college career, including one this season, and was an Academic All-Big Ten selection last year.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Ohio State at Purdue, Noon, Peacock, 1410

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