Purdue’s 29 point upset over the number 2 team in the nation comes as the third largest upset for an unranked team to beat a top-2 team ever. The others being Holy Cross beating No. 1 Boston College by 43 points in 1942, and Arkansas beating No. 1 Texas by 31 points in 1981. While both an upset and a monumental victory for the Boilermakers, it changed the landscape of the Big 10, and the path for Big 10 teams towards conference glory and, in a larger sense, towards the college football playoff.
The Big 10 East now squarely rests in Michigan’s control, with a 5-0 conference record, and a 7-1 overall record. The Wolverines are in control of their own destiny. That being said, they are at No. 17 Penn State on November 3rdand they are on a crash course with Ohio State for what amounts to a winner take all battle on November 24 at the Big House. So, it’s hardly a walk in the park to the Big 10 championship game.
Purdue, on the other hand, put themselves back into contention in the Big 10 West, which is by far the tighter of the two divisions.
There is no clear leader. Northwestern leads but takes on the higher ranked Wisconsin and Iowa in consecutive Big 10 matches (with Notre Dame sandwiched between them). The battle between all of them will be a dogfight through the remainder of the season, with no clear favourite. Wisconsin and Iowa stand out, but Purdue proved in their 29-point upset over the No.2 team in the nation that they can beat top teams, and one big win or loss may be enough to sway the entire division.
What Purdue’s win in West Lafayette really did was show the rest of the conference the roadmap to beating the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes undoubtedly out ‘talent’ just about every other team in the conference. OSU is in a national class of its own, so scheming is really the only way to take them on. The Boilermakers exposed almost every one of Ohio States major flaws. The Buckeyes really haven’t figured out an effective run game with 3 consecutive games that had less than 100 yards on the ground. They are very susceptible to big plays on defence, their Red Zone efficacy is underwhelming, their discipline seems to be a major issue as penalty’s set the Buckeyes back in major ways. In all major situations, Urban Meyers offence tends to become predictable, defaulting to the passing game because of their serious issues with the ground game. This Saturday OSU quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, set the school record for pass attempts at 73 attempts and completing 49 of them. A better secondary (i.e. Michigan) may not let that kind of efficacy happen. Nor let them have that many plays with an efficient offence of their own.
What is fortunate for Ohio State is, while a loss to Purdue hurts, it in no way takes them out of the race for the Playoffs or the Big 10 championship. While anything is possible (and they now have a history of surprise losses), running the table and beating a highly ranked Michigan, and winning the Big 10 championship game puts them back in control and into a playoff spot. They have 3 weeks to try and work out their glaring issues against harmless opponents in Maryland, Michigan State, and Nebraska. But this begs the question; Is there enough time to solve all these problems? Will they manage to rectify these issues that have been present since week 1 over the final three weeks? Or are there just simply too many problems for this Ohio State team to overcome for it to be in content for greatest in the land?
There is no doubt this Buckeye team is great, but for a program like the Ohio State University, it’s national championship or bust.