No. 5 Ohio State's offense gets back on track in blowout win over Purdue

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch

The angst about Ohio State's offense can be put to rest.

The unstoppable force the Buckeyes had been before a two-game lull re-emerged Saturday.

Pity Purdue.

No. 5 Ohio State scored touchdowns on its first six possessions to assert its dominance over the Boilermakers and cruised a 59-31 victory in front of 101,009 at Ohio Stadium.

Purdue has given Ohio State fits at Ross-Ade Stadium in recent years but hadn't beaten Ohio State in Columbus since 1988. Still, the Boilermakers' victories over then-No. 2 Iowa in October and No. 6 Michigan State last week made them seem to be a formidable opponent, even as a 20-point underdog.

The Buckeyes (9-1, 7-0 Big Ten) had been held to 33 and 26 points the past two weeks in too-close-for-comfort wins. They struggled with penalties, with their run game, and in the red zone.

This week, Ohio State vowed to correct those issues. Consider that mission almost completely accomplished.

Ohio State averaged 8.5 yards per play in gaining 624 yards against a Purdue defense that hadn't yielded more than 30 points in a game this season. C.J. Stroud was sharp all game in completing 31 of 38 passes for 361 yards and five touchdowns.

Junior wide receiver Garrett Wilson, who missed last week's victory at Nebraska, became the first OSU player ever to catch three touchdown passes and score on a run. He finished with 10 catches for 126 yards.

Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson celebrates a first-quarter touchdown against Purdue with wide receiver Chris Olave.

Sophomore Jaxon Smith-Njigba went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the season with nine receptions for 139 yards, including a 49-yard shovel pass to set up Ohio State's second touchdown.

The offensive explosion was needed because Ohio State's defense was leaky, reversing the progress it has shown in recent weeks. Purdue (6-4, 4-3) gained 481 yards, mostly through the air. Aidan O'Donnell completed 40 of 52 passes for 390 yards and four touchdowns.

But most of the damage came after Ohio State had an almost insurmountable lead.

The Buckeyes took control from the start. Their defense forced a three-and-out on Purdue's opening possession and OSU took over at the Purdue 39 after a 15-yard punt. On the fifth play of the drive, Wilson scored on a 21-yard screen.

Purdue answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive, but Ohio State scored the next 28 points. After TreVeyon Henderson scored to make it 14-7, Purdue was driving when coach Jeff Brohm had Jack Plummer replace O'Connell for a snap. It turned into a disaster for Purdue. Plummer botched the handoff, and Jerron Cage recovered.

On the next play, Henderson broke through a hole between left tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and left guard Thayer Munford for a 57-yard touchdown.

After a Purdue punt, Ohio State drove 75 yards, the final coming when Smith-Njigba was left wide open for a 20-yard touchdown.

Noah Ruggles' ensuing kickoff bounced in front of Purdue's Jackson Anthrop. Just as Anthrop caught the ball, OSU's Chris Booker clocked him, jarring the ball free. Palaie Gaoteote recovered at the Penn State 12. Ohio State capitalized with another touchdown pass to Wilson for a 35-7 lead.

The teams traded a touchdown and field goal apiece to make it 45-17 at halftime.

Ohio State made it 52-17 with a 75-yard touchdown drive to open the third quarter. Purdue then scored two touchdowns to close to within 21 points before Stroud threw to Chris Olave to put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter.

Contact Bill Rabinowitz at brabinowitz@dispatch.com or on Twitter: @brdispatch