COLUMBUS, Ohio — After two weeks of some uneven offensive play, the No. 6 Buckeyes were understandably anxious this week with giant-killer Purdue coming to town.
Ohio State had reason to be wary of the Boilermakers, who had already upset two top-five teams this season. The last time the two teams met, Purdue halted the Buckeyes’ 2018 march to the playoffs with a stunning upset in West Lafayette.
No worries this time.
Freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud was dialed in, throwing for 361 yards and five touchdowns as the Buckeyes struck early and rolled over Purdue 59-31 on Saturday.
“It’s going to build a lot of confidence,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “I don’t think our guys were lacking confidence, I just think after the last two weeks – we were on edge a little bit this week, to be honest with you. We just wanted to get back in this game, score in the red zone and get our nose dirty a little bit, and I think we did that.”
The Buckeyes (9-1, 7-0 Big Ten, CFP No. 4) scored on all seven of their first-half possessions, piling up 45 points against a Purdue team that hadn’t allowed more than 30 in any game this year.
“We were lucky to hold them to 59,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said.
The Buckeyes romped early, capitalizing on two Boilermakers turnovers, the second of which was a fumbled kickoff recovered on the Purdue 14. The 12-yard catch by Wilson two plays later gave the Buckeyes two touchdowns in 14 seconds.
Wilson had 10 catches for 126 yards. Jaxson Smith-Njigba followed up a 15-catch, 240-yard effort last week with nine catches for 139 yards a a TD.
Chris Olave had nine receptions for 85 yards a touchdown, the 33rd of his career and one away from the school record.
“It’s just real scary,” Smith-Njigba said. “I think its hard for defenses to cover all of us.”
The Ohio State defense wasn’t outstanding, but Stroud and Co. painted over it. Purdue quarterback Aiden O’Connell was 40 for 52 and threw four touchdown passes. He wasn’t sacked. David Bell had 11 catches for 103 yards as the Boilermakers (6-4, 4-3) piled up a respectable 481 yards.
“Certainly we don’t like to give up 31 points in a game,” Day said. “I think when you look at the last couple of week, when the offense has been exactly stellar, the defense played really, really well. This game, we score 59 points on offense and the defense gave up 31. The good news is we’re kind of helping each other out, but we’re still looking for that complete game. That’s part of winning football in November.”
A 57-yard touchdown run by Henderson was his fourth rush of at least 50 yards this season, which ties him for the national lead. His 17th TD put him within one of the single-season school record by a freshman. Maurice Clarett had 18 in 2002.
Purdue: The defense just couldn’t slow down Ohio State’s array of offensive stars. Purdue had won three of its last four, including a 40-29 upset of then-No. 5 Michigan State last week, before running into a Buckeyes offense that just wasn’t missing on much.
“They are a playoff-caliber team,” Brohm said. “They out-played us and out-manned us and really beat us in every category.”
Ohio State: The Buckeyes shook off all the talk about this being a possible trap game and treated Purdue like an early season cupcake.
The rout over a dangerous conference foe should impress voters. With No. 4 Oklahoma’s loss to No. 18 Baylor, the Buckeyes could make a move up.
Purdue: Plays Northwestern on Saturday at Wrigley Field.
Ohio State: Hosts No. 8 Michigan State on Saturday.