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November 2, 2013

Train wreck

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue wanted a blackout and, instead, it got knocked out.

The Boilermakers, which urged its faithful to smother Ross-Ade Stadium in black anything and everything for their showcase game against undefeated Ohio State, were simply eviscerated in a place where they had beaten the Buckeyes in three of their last four tries.

Picking up where it left off in a blowout win against Penn State, Ohio State slaughtered a seemingly overwhelmed and relatively hapless Purdue squad, 56-0, on a cool Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.

In the process, the No. 4-ranked Buckeyes -- which improved to 21-0 under the direction of coach Urban Meyer -- moved yet another step closer toward aspirations of earning a spot in the national championship game.

"That's a good sign that we're playing much better pass defense, a lot of positives and the most important positive that I can think of is the fact that we've taken a weakness which was pass defense -- and I don't want to say it's a strength yet -- but it's much improved," he said after the game.

While that was accomplished, of course, against a seemingly vastly inferior opponent, the win marks the second-straight demolition of a Big Ten foe.

The Buckeyes, which nearly eclipsed 700 yards against the Nittany Lions last weekend, totaled 640 yards against Purdue.

It's the kind of offense, Meyer said, that he's come to expect.

"Our offensive line is blocking people, there's a bunch of targets. Our tight end had a great day today. The one thing about when you play with extended receivers, it's not you're saying 'Get the ball to him.' The defense dictates where the ball goes," he said.

"Push the rewind button to one year ago facing the same team. Who you going to throw the ball to? I don't know. Now you got five, six targets that actually want to see the ball in their hands and they've earned that right."

Largely behind Ohio State's offensive explosion was Braxton Miller. The junior quarterback, who began the season as a potential frontrunner for the Heisman, threw for 235 yards, four touchdowns and one interception on 20-of-24 attempts.

Carlos Hyde, whose surging play has helped will the Buckeyes to victories in their last three games, totaled 111 yards on eight carries. Since (and including) a 168-yard, three-touchdown outburst against Northwestern on Oct. 5, the senior running back has toted the ball for 575 yards and seven touchdowns.

"I was here when we came here and we took a loss. It was more than just me, it was a bunch of guys that was here when we lost here. That haunts you. You want to come back in here, we got a good streak going right," Hyde said.

"The last thing we want to do is come and here and take an L because we're not focused. Before the game, coach got us a little riled up and told us let's go."

Against first-year coach and former Ohio State assistant Darrell Hazell, the Boilermakers -- which seemingly needed a GPS tracking chip to locate some of the Buckeyes' wide receivers and tight ends -- his contributions were hardly a necessity during a game in which Ohio State amassed 42 points and 350 total yards in the first half.

The game's scoring, however, started on defense and likely couldn't have been a more miserable start for a Purdue.

After receiving the opening kickoff, freshman quarterback Danny Etling threw an interception to junior cornerback Doran Grant, who took the ball back for a touchdown and the first score of the game less than a minute into the game.

And for the overmatched Boilermakers, it marked the beginning of the end for a team seemingly trying to keep its head above water before a single snap was taken.

While Purdue seemed tentative and unsure of themselves on offense, the Buckeyes continued to define themselves as one of the nation's top outfits.

On more than one occasion, Miller could be found rolling left and right out of the pocket before throwing bullet-like passes to a handful of receivers waiting in the winds.

In particular, Purdue could simply not defend Jeff Heuerman, who caught five passes for 116 yards and one touchdown. Time and time again, Miller connected with the junior tight end, continuing to gash a defense unable to defend the flurry of passes hurled against it.

And while Ohio State's offense thrived, the Boilermakers struggled make much of anything happen Saturday, finishing with just 116 yards of total offense.

After building a 42-0 advantage at halftime, the Buckeyes coasted during the game's second act.

The contest was so lopsided, in fact, that Meyer pulled the likes of Miller and Hyde after intermission to likely save them from potential injury.

In their place, backup quarterback Kenny Guiton and freshman running back Ezekiel Elliott relieved their starting brethren.

Guiton, who commanded Meyer's offense while Miller three games with an MCL sprain, threw for 59 yards and a touchdown on eight-of-11 tries and ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.

Despite its efforts down the stretch, Purdue found itself unsuccessful in trying to put any sort of points on the scoreboard.

After a bye next Saturday, Ohio State will travel to Illinois on Nov. 16.

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