Jeff Brohm decided to go for it against No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday.
The Buckeyes buckled under the pressure.
D.J. Knox ran for 128 yards and three touchdowns, David Blough threw for three more scores and the Boilermakers held Ohio State’s vaunted passing game in check most of the night as they pulled away for a 49-20 upset to shake up the College Football Playoff chase.
“Just a great performance. I tell you what I don’t have anything negative to say,” Brohm said. “We came in and played aggressive and I think you have to play aggressive against these guys.”
The Boilermakers (4-3, 3-1 Big Ten) certainly have played it their way lately.
They’ve won four straight overall, two in a row against ranked opponents and handed Brohm a signature victory midway through his second season by rolling the dice and challenging the Buckeyes in all three phases. Fans spilled onto the field as the Buckeyes (7-1, 3-1) tried to avoid them as they headed to the locker room.
Why not celebrate?
The last time Purdue beat a team ranked this high was when they took down the second-ranked Buckeyes 28-23 on Oct. 6, 1984. And with four scoring plays of at least 40 yards in the final 12 minutes, the Boilermakers shattered their school record for points scored in the series. The previous mark came in October 1967 when Purdue won 41-6 in Columbus, Ohio.
This one won’t soon be forgotten by the Boilermakers or the Buckeyes, who had their 12-game winning streak snapped while falling one game behind rival Michigan in the Big Ten East.
Blough outplayed Heisman Trophy candidate Dwayne Haskins Jr., finishing 25 of 43 for 378 yards and sealing the victory with a 43-yard scoring pass to Rondale Moore with 3:37 to play. It was Blough’s third straight 300-yard game and his fourth this season.
The mistake-prone Buckeyes, meanwhile, didn’t reach the end zone until early in the fourth quarter and never led on a night they ran 25 times for 76 yards.
“My main message is we have to treat this like it’s life or death,” Buckeyes receiver Terry McLaurin said. “You have to have that type of mentality going into battle when someone’s trying to knock you off. If you don’t come ready, this happens.”
Now Ohio State must fight its way back into the playoff mix.
“I’m very surprised. I thought we had a good week of work,” coach Urban Meyer said. “The glaring shortcomings we had were exposed.”
Haskins wound up 49 of 73, shattering Ohio State’s single-game school records in both categories, and had 470 yards, throwing two touchdowns and one interception. But he missed receivers down the field on a windy night at Ross-Ade Stadium and was nearly picked off a couple of other times before Markus Bailey’s 41-yard interception return for a score.
“We came in with an aggressive plan and an aggressive approach,” Brohm said. “We did a nice job making their quarterback a little bit uncomfortable and with that the offense was able to score some points and maybe make them (Buckeyes) slightly panic just a bit.”
Isaac Zico got things started with a spectacular one-handed catch before running out of bounds to make it 7-0 late in the first quarter.
Purdue made it 14-3 by driving 80 yards in 84 seconds late in the first half, thanks in part to punter Joe Schopper’s first-down run on a fake field goal. Blough connected with Moore for a 9-yard TD pass to make it 14-3 at the half.
The Buckeyes tried to crank up the pace and the intensity in the second half but that didn’t work, either.
Four plays after Davon Hamilton ran into Schopper, giving Purdue another first down, Knox made it 21-6.
Haskins finally hooked up with Johnnie Dixon III on a 32-yard TD pass to make it 28-13 and McLaurin on a 34-yard TD pass to make it 35-20 with 4:40 to go. But Knox scored on runs of 42 and 40 yards, Blough found Moore on a 43-yard TD pass and Bailey sealed it with the interception return.
Buckeyes: Ohio State struggled to run again, made far too many mistakes and couldn’t shut down the Boilermakers late to give them a chance. The search for solutions will begin immediately.
Boilermakers: This is easily the biggest win of Brohm’s brief tenure, and now the Boilermakers head into the most challenging part of their schedule with momentum and visions of a Big Ten West title.
Ohio State was the only top 10 team to lose Saturday and is likely to take a tumble in the rankings, given the score and how poorly the Buckeyes played. The Boilermakers may have to wait at least another week to crack the Top 25, but they should get the attention of voters this week and may pick up some votes.
THEY SAID IT
Buckeyes: “I never thought I would have to throw the ball 73 times for us to win,” Haskins said. “You’ve got to do what you do to win. We just didn’t do that today.”
Boilermakers: “This win means a lot for this team because it shows everyone around the country that you can win football games at Purdue,” Brohm said. “And we’re going to enjoy the game and roll the dice and see what happens.”
Buckeyes: Have a bye week to contemplate what went wrong before hosting Nebraska on Nov. 3.
Boilermakers: Head to No. 24 Michigan State next Saturday, hoping to build on their momentum.
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