WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — All week, Ohio State talked about its ugly history at Ross-Ade Stadium, of losses to Purdue teams that had no business beating them.
They believed they had inoculated themselves to whatever malady afflicts them here. But this morning, coach Urban Meyer sensed some flatness among his players before the noon kickoff. So he had his right-hand man, head strength coach Mickey Marotti, inject some life into the locker room.
“Rattled their cage,” Meyer said.
Sufficiently awakened, the Buckeyes went out and did what the talent disparity between the teams indicated they should. Fourth-ranked Ohio State scored four touchdowns in the first 13 minutes and breezed to a 56-0 victory.
It was the most lopsided Ohio State victory over Purdue in the 55 games between the teams.
Based on their respective 2013 seasons, such an outcome didn’t come as a surprise. Purdue (1-7, 0-4 Big Ten) is in the early stages of rebuilding under new coach Darrell Hazell, a former Ohio State assistant.
But the Boilermakers weren’t much better last year, and the Buckeyes had to rally for an overtime victory. Ross-Ade had been a particular haunted house for Ohio State, which had lost two straight and three of four there.
“I know the history,” Meyer said. “We had great discussion about it.”
But then came the morning blahs.
“I just didn’t like what I saw in pregame,” Meyer said. “So we brought (Marotti) in here and kind of rattled it up a little bit and made sure we woke up.”
What did he say?
“That’s in-house,” Meyer said. “What’s the proper word? Demonstrative?”
Marotti was almost sheepish when asked about his message.
“Just yelling and screaming,” he said.
Marotti said that running backs coach Stan Drayton and defensive line coach Mike Vrabel also got involved.
“We just got them going,” he said. “That’s all.”
Whatever he said worked.
“He doesn’t do it every game,” fifth-year senior quarterback Kenny Guiton said. “When he does do it, it’s like, ‘Man, it’s time to go.’ It really brought back memories from the past times we were here. When he did that, it was like, ‘OK, that’s not happening again.’”
No, it did not. Ohio State (9-0, 5-0) dominated from the start. On Purdue’s second snap after taking the opening kickoff, cornerback Doran Grant anticipated a pass from freshman quarterback Danny Etling, made the interception and ran 33 yards for a touchdown.
Ohio State forced a three-and-out and took over at the Purdue 49-yard line after a 15-yard punt. On the second play, Braxton Miller threw to tight end Jeff Heuerman for a 40-yard touchdown pass. The game was not even three minutes old.
“We can’t go out there and spot them the way we spotted them,” Hazell said. “We talked all week about getting off to a good start, and we just did the opposite.”
The momentum never shifted. Ohio State moved the ball almost at will, outgaining Purdue 640-116 in total yards. Miller continued his sharp passing. The junior completed 19 of 23 passes for 233 yards and four touchdowns, with the only hiccup a first-quarter interception.
Carlos Hyde ran for 111 yards on only eight carries. Excluding two kneel-downs that ended the game, the Buckeyes ran for 350 yards on 39 carries.
Miller, who carried the ball only once, ceded quarterback duties to Guiton after halftime. Guiton ran for 98 yards and two scores and threw for another on a Tim Tebow-like jump pass to Chris Fields. It was a much easier catch than the diving one Fields caught from Guiton for a touchdown last year against Purdue that enabled the Buckeyes to send that game to overtime.
Ohio State was just as dominant on the other side of the ball. The Buckeyes didn’t allow a run longer than 11 yards. Purdue did not get past the Ohio State 37, and that drive ended when Noah Spence had one of the Buckeyes’ six sacks. Etling completed only 13 of 29 passes for 89 yards.
“Any time we play pass defense like that, we have a chance to be a very, very good team,” Meyer said. “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.”
Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell was particularly pleased that the defense didn’t relax after the offense took command.
“The way we finished was a big deal,” he said. “Our offense has put us in some great situations early in the year like at Cal, and then you saw a lapse. I think we showed maturity.”
The Buckeyes led 42-0 at halftime and showed mercy by playing backups for most of the second half. Even so, the Buckeyes’ combined victory margin the past two weeks of 105 points is the most for Ohio State in consecutive Big Ten games since 1975.