COLUMBUS — Looking to correct the issues that ailed them offensively the past two weeks, No. 4 Ohio State had no trouble scoring early and often en route to a 59-31 beatdown of No. 19 Purdue on Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
Quarterback C.J. Stroud continued his march towards an invite to the Heisman Trophy ceremony next month with another explosive performance, completing 31 of his 38 attempts for 361 yards and five touchdowns.
Garrett Wilson became the first Ohio State receiver since Noah Brown in 2016 to score four touchdowns, finding the endzone three times through the air and once on the ground.
After struggling in consecutive weeks to run the football, Ohio State (9-1) was able to rejuvenate the rushing attack against Purdue. TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams combined for 215 yards on the ground, with Henderson adding two rushing touchdowns. As a team, the Buckeyes ran for 261 yards.
“It was a good win in November against a team that was dangerous,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said following the game. “We came out and played well early, created some turnovers, and certainly made a lot of plays on the perimeter. In the run game, I thought we moved the line of scrimmage, something we talked about a lot on offense.”
While the Ohio State offense was humming along, the afternoon wasn’t without its struggles for a defense that had appeared to have made strides since September. Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for 390 yards and four touchdowns on the day, and he was comfortable throughout as the Ohio State pass rush was shut down entirely.
The game couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for Purdue, whose self-inflicted mistakes never really gave them much of a chance in the early going. After forcing a stop on Purdue’s opening possession, Ohio State quickly took advantage of a poor Boilermakers punt that traveled just 16 yards to the Purdue 39-yard line.
Ohio State needed just five plays to cash in on the prime field position, and Stroud’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Wilson had the Buckeyes out in front 7-0 just minutes into the game.
Purdue (6-4) answered right back in a hurry, putting together a six-play touchdown drive that leveled the score at 7-7 with 8:56 remaining in the first quarter.
Henderson’s 3-yard touchdown run on the ensuing possession put Ohio State back out in front 14-7, and after recovering a Purdue fumble, it was Henderson again racing to the end zone from 57 yards out to increase their lead to 21-7.
Stroud’s second touchdown pass of the game made it 28-7 Ohio State early in the second quarter, and complete disaster struck for Purdue on the ensuing kickoff. Purdue’s Jackson Anthrop failed to field the kickoff initially, and he was hit immediately after picking up the loose ball. Palaie Gaoteote recovered the fumble at the 14-yard line for the Buckeyes, setting the offense up for the early knockout blow.
Two plays later, Wilson hauled in his second touchdown pass of the day from Stroud, putting Ohio State up 35-7 as the flood gates opened on Purdue’s upset hopes. Both teams combined for 20 points over nine minutes as Ohio State took a 45-17 lead into halftime.
Out of the break, Ohio State took the opening kickoff of the second half and put together a 10-play drive that Wilson finished with his fourth touchdown of the day on a 24-yard scoring catch from Stroud to increase the Buckeyes lead to 52-17.
Despite the large deficit, Purdue refused to go away quietly. O’Connell continued his massive performance with touchdown passes of nine and 29 yards to cut the Ohio State lead to 52-31 as the third quarter ended.
But the Ohio State offense simply wouldn’t be denied on the day, and Stroud stretched the lead back to 28 points early in the fourth quarter with his fifth touchdown pass of the game. Chris Olave’s 5-yard touchdown grab had Ohio State out in front 59-31, and they cruised from there en route to the decisive victory.
With just two games remaining in the regular season, Ohio State welcomes No. 7 Michigan State (9-1) to Columbus in the final home game of the season.
“Michigan State’s coming in here, and we gotta get back to playing consistent football,” Day said of the road ahead. “That’s what it is in November. This was a typical game in November in the Big Ten with the wind and the cold. The best teams play well in November.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.