WEST LAFAYETTE -- It’s everything Darrell Hazell wants Purdue to become. There’s the tradition, the rabid fan base, and all those championships. Ohio State is the pinnacle of the Big Ten.
Hazell was part of it for seven seasons. As an assistant on Jim Tressel’s staff, he learned the traits of a championship program. At Purdue, Hazell has injected every dose of the Buckeye way into his program—even the most minor details.
But on Saturday, Hazell was on the opposite sideline from Ohio State. The Boilermakers’ first-year head coach endured his worst defeat ever, the worst in Purdue’s long football history, a 56-0 loss.
“It has been a struggle,” Hazell said. “It’s very much a struggle right now.”
While Hazell aspires to bring the Boilermakers to Ohio State’s level, the reality is that they’re a long, long way from it.
The score remained even for less than a minute. A telegraphed Danny Etling pass went to the hands of Doran Grant, who took it 33 yards to the house. While Purdue was ready to take some chances on offense, ball security was an emphasis against the nation’s fourth-ranked team. Etling brought the Boilermakers a disastrous start.
“You let your teammates down there,” Etling said in a critique of himself. “I’m going to keep working hard to get better, and hopefully I won’t do that.”
After a Purdue three-and-out, the Buckeyes cruised to the end zone in two plays and 23 seconds. Ohio State had 14 points in less than four minutes. It would only get worse.
Jeff Heuerman, the Ohio State tight end who had harsh words for West Lafayette, must love Ross-Ade Stadium now. He posted a career-high 116 yards and a touchdown, all coming in the first half. On three of those catches, including the score, he was left open in the middle of the field. He was just one of the Buckeyes’ key figures on offense.
Ohio State finished with 640 yards of offense—345 on the ground and 295 in the air—and scored the most points against Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium, topping Northern Illinois’ record from just a few weeks ago.
Braxton Miller went for a casual 233 yards and four touchdowns, Carlos Hyde posted 111 yards on only eight carries, and Kenny Guiton 98 yards on the ground, including two rushing touchdowns and one passing score.
Purdue finished the game with just 116 yards of offense, and was shutout for the second consecutive games, the first time that has happened in more than 60 years. Etling hit on just 13 of his 29 passes for 89 yards, and was sacked six times.
The story on defense was even worse. Ohio State scored early, often, and seemingly at will. The Boilermakers’ coverages were just as bad as their execution.
“They just made plays and we didn’t,” said senior linebacker Sean Robinson. “It’s pretty simple. That’s it.”
Give credit to Hazell, who has kept his head up during the Boilermakers’ 1-7 start. It can’t be easy to do. He must manage this program after another brutal bruising.
“It’s just like a win, you’ve got to take the salt and live with the salt for 24 hours, and then you have to move on,” Hazell said. “If you don’t, you can’t get any better. We’ll feel terrible for 24 hours and then we’ll move on.”
There could be brighter days ahead for Purdue, but this is a program a long way from consistent winning seasons. The Boilermakers won’t be competing with Ohio State anytime soon.
For now, and many years to come, Ohio State remains the class of the Big Ten.