Boilers-Buckeyes huge Big Ten game

Originally Published: November 12, 2003
By Herb Gould | Special to ESPN.com
The focus will be on Ohio State, which still has an outside chance to slip into its second straight national championship game, when Purdue travels to Columbus Saturday. But the Boilers have more on the line than simply playing spoiler. If they win out against the Buckeyes and Indiana, and Ohio State knocks off Michigan, Purdue will be the outright Big Ten champion. If Purdue and Michigan tie for the Big Ten title, the Wolverines will be the Big Ten's formal BCS representative, and will be Rose Bowl-bound on the strength of their victory over Purdue. In that case, Purdue likely would play in a Jan. 1 Florida bowl in Orlando or Tampa. But there's a remote chance the Boilermakers could receive an at-large BCS bid if a lot of dominoes fall into place.

  • Don't look for Purdue, which rushed for a surprising 154 yards against Iowa's supposedly strong run defense, to put up that kind of number against the Buckeyes, who are allowing 45 rushing yards a game, tops in the nation. Iowa (80.2 yards) is fifth. But do look for the Boilermakers to try and use their running competence to create some favorable situations for their passing attack.

  • No question, Ohio State will be primed to field a smothering defense against the Boilermakers. But Purdue's senior-laden defense also will bring a lot to the Horseshoe in what shapes up as a dramatic Big Ten showdown. The Boilers' defense stuffed Iowa tailback Fred Russell, holding him to 35 yards on 18 carries. Russell had entered the game averaging 112.2 yards, 13th in the nation.
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