ANALYSIS: 6 storylines to watch in Saturday’s Ohio State-Purdue game

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 29: Quarterback David Blough #11 of the Purdue Boilermakers passes against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
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LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 29: Quarterback David Blough #11 of the Purdue Boilermakers passes against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

Ohio State heads to Purdue for a game Saturday night that could set quite a tone for the rest of the season.

The second-ranked Buckeyes are coming off a pair of lackluster wins at home against Indiana and Minnesota.

» WEEK 8 COVERAGE: Ohio State hoping to get healthier| Buckeyes happy to be 7-0 heading to Purdue

Here are six things to know about the game:

1. The Boilermakers are just 3-3, but they have won three in a row after dropping their first three games by a combined margin of eight points.

Conventional stats show a team that is great at moving the ball on offense (10th nationally in total yards) but only so-so in scoring (42nd) while the converse is true on defense (92 and tied for 44th, respectively).

Advanced stats from Football Outsiders show much the same thing while also revealing the Boilermakers have a big-play offense and more or less a bend-but-don't-break defense.

RELATED: More numbers to know for the game

2. The Boilermakers are looked at as an up-and-coming team thanks to the presence of up-and-coming coach Jeff Brohm.

A Louisville native who comes from a football family, Brohm is a former quarterback who played at U of L before spending seven seasons in the NFL. He was also part of the short-lived XFL before starting a coaching career that began with arena football before ultimately leading him to become head coach at Western Kentucky.

Purdue hired him last year to bring back the pass-happy days of the late 1990s and early 2000s, and he has done just that.

“I’ve coached against him for a lot of years at different places,” Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. “He’s an excellent coach. His brother (Greg) is an excellent coach. They’re a football family who really knows and understands the game.”

3. Purdue quarterback David Blough has put up big numbers so far this season, but the guy in Old Gold and Black getting all the hype so far is Rondale Moore.

A 5-foot-9, 175-pound true freshman from New Albany, Ind., Moore is a water bug who is hard to tackle in the open field. He leads the Big Ten and is fourth nationally in all-purpose yards (167.8 per game).

On the other side of the ball, linebacker Cornel Jones leads the Big Ten with 11 tackles for loss while teammate Markus Bailey (a central Ohio native) has 5.5.

“(Bailey) wants to prove himself,” Brohm said. “He wants to prove he’s a productive big-time player and this is a big stage and opportunity to show where he’s at. I anticipate him playing well.”

Bengals fans will also recognize the name Lorenzo Neal, Jr. A junior defensive tackle, he is the son of former Cincinnati fullback Lorenzo Neal.

4. Brohm is hoping for some home cooking — especially with a 7:30 p.m. start.

“Yeah without question there’s a lot of buzz around town, on campus,” Brohm said Tuesday, noting fans see a program looking to take a huge step toward respectability.

“I think they’re excited not only to see us play but to see Ohio State play and to see the matchup and see where we stack up and to have a lot of fun in a prime-time game, which we don’t get as much here as some of the other schools,” Brohm said. “Hopefully we can keep it close and hang in there as long as we can.”

Ross-Ade Stadium is one of the least-imposing places to play in the Big Ten, but it has been a house of horrors for Ohio State lately.

Although the Buckeyes blasted Purdue in their last trip (56-0 in 2013), they have lost four of six games in West Lafayette since 2000.

5. The Boilermakers’ attack could be described as Kryptonite for the Ohio State defense — if only the Buckeyes had been anything close to super so far this season.

Purdue brings the nation’s No. 7 passing offense into the game against a Buckeye pass defense that is 59th.

Ohio State’s young secondary will be tested by the combination of Brohm’s offense, Blough’s decision-making and Moore’s playmaking.

»RELATED: What losing Nick Bosa means for Ohio State

“Are we going to be able to get open?” Brohm said. “Are we going to be able to make those throws? Are we going to be able to block long enough to throw it vertically up the field? That’s a concern. All those things come into play but without question we have to find ways to create some big plays.”

6. Ohio State is no doubt looking at having opportunities to light up the scoreboard, too.

The Buckeyes have an even better passing offense (No. 3 nationally) while Purdue’s numbers are much worse (No. 108).

“They’re aggressive,” Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day said. “They play a lot of defense. They try to create chaos. At some point they’re going to get through and you can’t ruin the game on a play that didn’t go well. You have to manage the situations as a quarterback. You have to make sure you cut your losses and not create turnovers.”

Ohio State would also like to get the running game in gear after a season-low 92 yards last week against Minnesota.


SATURDAY’S GAME

Ohio State at Purdue, 7:30 p.m., ABC, 1410

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