Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Ohio State

Buckeyes wilt under pressure


Ohio State DeVier Posey reacts on the bench late in the game. The Buckeyes fell to 5-2, 3-1 in the Big Ten.

Darron Cummings / AP Enlarge

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Ohio State coach Jim Tressel loves to sing the praises of pressure. He regularly repeats the mantra that great offenses keep the pressure on the defense and that great defensive pressure forces mistakes and provides scoring opportunities.

Tressel got to see his proclamations turn into fact for a few hours yesterday as a 1-5 Purdue team did most of the pressure application and shocked the No. 7-ranked Buckeyes 26-18, handing Ohio State its first Big Ten loss of the season.

The Boilermakers, who had lost five straight after winning their season-opener against Toledo, used a bunch of different blitzes to shake up Ohio State sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor and force him into two interceptions and two lost fumbles. Pryor also was sacked five times.

"They brought pressure from a whole different level," Pryor said after the defeat. "It was nothing like I saw on film. That pressure was just totally unexpected, and I couldn't quite get a handle on them."

Purdue coach Danny Hope said his game plan called for stopping Ohio State's running attack and forcing Pryor to deal with pressure on long third downs.

"That was one of our keys to victory," Hope said. "At this point in his career, Pryor struggles in those situations. He's a great athlete and a great runner, but we knew we'd have the edge against him in third-and-long."

Tressel said that despite Pryor's mistakes in the game, the Ohio State coach did not consider benching Pryor in favor of seldom-used backup Joe Bauserman.

"I didn't think he was rattled," Tressel said about Pryor. "Discouraged? Sure, but I wouldn't say he was rattled. We just weren't executing, and at the beginning of the game, we weren't protecting the quarterback."

Ohio State sophomore center Mike Brewster said the offensive line shares the blame for the defeat, which snapped a 16-game Big Ten road winning streak for the Buckeyes.

"There was pressure. They were running a lot of blitzes at us, and maybe some of the younger guys didn't handle that real well," he said.

"But we expect more of ourselves. This loss ... it hurts. It's frustrating."

CALLED BACK: One of Ohio State's best scoring opportunities in the game came late in the first half after an 18-yard punt by Purdue put the Buckeyes to work at the Purdue 30.

Two straight receptions by DeVier Posey got the ball to the 14, and from there

Brandon Saine broke a couple of tackles and burst through for an apparent touchdown that would have given Ohio State a 14-6 advantage.

But a holding call on tackle Bryant Browning well behind the play negated the touchdown and pushed the Buckeyes back to the 24, and on the next play Pryor had the ball stripped away as he was sacked while retreating back near midfield. With a penalty and a fumble on a sack with a 21-yard loss, Ohio State went from

scoring a touchdown to turning the ball over at the 45.

"That kind of stuff is really frustrating," OSU senior lineman Jim Cordle said. "We thought we had the touchdown, but penalties like that killed us. When you turn the ball over or hurt yourself with penalties - those are things that really get to you."

STREAK SNAPPED: Ohio State had won 16 straight Big Ten games on the road entering yesterday's contest against Purdue. With a win, the Buckeyes would have tied Michigan for the all-time conference record of 17 consecutive road wins, set by the Wolverines from 1988-1992.

STAT FRIGHT: Ohio State had just 12 first downs in the game and rushed for only 66 yards. The Buckeyes averaged only 2.4 yards per carry, and starting tailback Brandon Saine had only 32 yards rushing on seven attempts, with 20 of those yards coming on one play.

"Purdue played great defense," Saine said. "They had a game plan, and they executed it to perfection."

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