Few questions remain after Buckeyes crush Purdue

The Buckeyes had no mercy against a Purdue offense that had been unstoppable.

Brian Deutsch

Coming into last Saturday’s match-up between two unbeaten teams, there was a lot of talk about which was better; Purdue’s offense or Ohio State’s defense.

But when the clock ran out late Saturday night there was no more discussion.

Ohio State shut down the Boilermakers’ offense – winning the game 23-7.

The Buckeyes allowed just one touchdown to a Purdue team that had been averaging 45.4 points a game coming into the Ohio State game.

“Our defense went to work and seized the tempo of the game and never let that tempo go,” Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel said.

With the win, Ohio State moved up one spot in the Associated Press Poll to No. 3 and became the Big Ten’s only undefeated team at 6-0.

The win makes Ohio State the first conference team to reach bowl eligibility this season, the Buckeyes have earned a bowl bid for the seventh straight season under Tressel.

Ohio State is also closing in on the record for consecutive conference wins. The Buckeyes have won 17 straight Big Ten games – two away from tying Michigan’s string of 19 straight from 1990-1992.

Making some Illi’noise’

Despite owning the then-nation’s longest active winning streak of 14 games and being ranked fifth in the AP Polls, Wisconsin was still considered the underdog by experts when the Badgers took on a hot Illinois team last Saturday.

And the Illini proved odds-makers correct as the team handed Wisconsin its first loss of the season and just the second loss ever under coach Brett Bielema.

The Badgers spotted Illinois 17 points and never could quite erase the deficit as Wisconsin would go on to lose the contest 31-26.

The victory dropped the Badgers to No. 19 in the rankings while the Illini leapfrogged Wisconsin to 18th in the country.

“(The Players) have accomplished some things that a lot of people didn’t think that they could,” Illinois coach Ron Zook said. “Öbut they also have to understand, we have not really accomplished anything yet in terms of something that we can enjoy at the end of the season.”

Junior running back Rashard Mendenhall recorded three touchdowns in the game (two rushing and one receiving) to lead Illinois.

Bacher throws for record

Northwestern’s season has been full of ups and downs, but the team will host Minnesota riding perhaps its biggest high of the season.

After starting the season 2-0, the Wildcats then dropped three straight – including a 20-14 loss to Duke that ended a 22-game losing skid for the Blue Devils.

The Duke loss was followed by sound losses to Ohio State and Michigan and very few gave the Wildcats a chance against Michigan State last weekend.

But behind the arm of junior quarterback C.J. Bacher, Northwestern accomplished the unexpected – handing the Spartans their second consecutive loss in a 48-41 overtime contest.

The two teams traded touchdowns throughout the game, combining for 13 total, but in the end the Wildcats were able to keep the Spartans out of the end zone in overtime.

“During the game, I don’t know if I’d call it entertaining. I’m definitely grayer than I was on Friday,” Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “It was a Big Ten slugfest. Both offenses were playing at a high level, both teams were executing well.”

Bacher broke school records with 520 passing yards and five touchdown completions in the game including a 12-yard end zone strike that would eventually become the game winner.

The junior also completed 38 of 48 passes and was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.