COLUMBUS - After a crash, a car gets pieced back together and then a test drive takes place before it is ready to get out on the road. When illness hits, rest and recovery follow, and then the patient's performance is closely analyzed before a clean bill of health is issued.
Ohio State wasn't a wrecked or sick football team when it lost its first game in nearly a year during a recent trip to Wisconsin, but the Buckeyes were definitely emotionally ailing. What the Badgers had issued to the then No. 1 team in the nation was more than a fender-bender.
"It's tough to lose under any circumstances, but when you're No. 1 and working toward your goals, and then to see the game slip away - it definitely stings," Ohio State senior wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said recently.
"There's shock, there's hurt, but you know you have to get through it and go back to work. The way the next game comes at you so fast, there's not much time for feeling bad. You make it right by going out there again, and playing well."
The Buckeyes did that, disposing of Purdue in convincing fashion by a 49-0 score on Saturday. Ohio State led 42-0 at the half, and then called off the dogs. Junior running back Dan "Boom" Herron said the Buckeyes had been told by coach Jim Tressel that the way they played on the heels of that crushing loss would demonstrate their character.
"We definitely wanted to get out there and get on top and get some momentum going," Herron said. "I think we did a great job of that. Coach Tressel told us this was the game that would show what we were made of. We needed to come back and make something happen."
Besides the victory that allowed the Buckeyes to keep pace in the Big Ten, a game behind conference leader Michigan State, Ohio State was able to put an exclamation point behind its performance with a shutout. Purdue had been averaging better than 200 yards rushing per game, but was held to just 30 yards on 27 carries. The Boilermakers had averaged 361.5 yards of offense through their first six games, but managed only 118 yards against the Buckeyes.
"I expected it," senior safety Jermale Hines said about the performance. "Our whole team was upset, from the head coach down. It trickled down and guys came together as a team and we got the job done."
"The defense had a chip on their shoulder coming into this game," Herron said after the win over Purdue.
Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who went 16-of-22 passing against the Boilermakers for 270 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions, said the defeat at Wisconsin was an anomaly.
"Not to take anything away from Wisconsin at all, and I don't want this to come out the wrong way, but those guys weren't better than us," Pryor said. "Everyone knows that . . . I think they got the better of us. We'd beat them nine out of 10 times."
Offensive lineman Justin Boren said a victory delivered in resounding fashion was the best remedy for what was ailing OSU after the loss to Wisconsin.
"We were upset about what happened. We knew we had to take care of business," Boren said. "It feels good to come out and get a big win after a heartbreaking loss. We're back on track, and looking forward to what's in store up the road."
The Buckeyes (7-1, 3-1) play at
8 p.m. Saturday at Minnesota, making their first appearance in the new TCF Bank Stadium.
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