1. Mental Health of the Team. After suffering a tough defeat at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers last Saturday, Ohio State will have to rebound quickly against Purdue this weekend. The Boilermakers defeated the Buckeyes last season in what ended up being the worst game of Terrelle Pryor's career. The junior signal-caller cannot afford to have a repeat performance of that game, where he threw two interceptions and also fumbled the ball twice.
Any hangover or pity that the team may be dealing with must not prevent them from taking care of business against Danny Hope's Boilermakers. Last season's defeat to these same Boilermakers should be enough of a reminder that any team can lose if they do not take their opponent seriously.
2. Physical Health of the Team. Perhaps more tangible than any possible mental side effects from the Wisconsin loss last weekend, the depth chart at Ohio State is being tested by a rash of injuries that continued against the Badgers. Starting weakside linebacker Ross Homan is out an indeterminable time, true freshman "star" Christian Bryant had surgery to remove an infection in his foot- Bryant was already the replacement at the star position for Tyler Moeller, who is out for the season with another injury- and safety Orhian Johnson was banged up in run support last weekend, so he will be at less than one hundred percent.
3. The New Purdue. Offensive coordinator Gary Nord has reconfigured the Boilermaker attack to protect redshirt freshman quarterback Rob Henry, who was thrust into the starting role after starting quarterback Robert Marve was lost on the season to a knee injury. Nord has gone to a running attack mixed with some option in order to take advantage of Henry's natural athletic ability without throwing him to the wolves in the passing game. The Purdue of last season with Joey Elliot tossing the ball around on every play is no more.
4. The Running Game. For the second week in a row, senior running back Brandon Saine did not receive one carry. He has clearly been phased out of the true running back role, yet he is still an active part of the offense as a pseudo-H-Back. Boom Herron took the bulk of the carries against the Badgers, but true sophomore Jordan Hall received time as well. Against a Purdue defense that has struggled against the run this season, it will be important for the Buckeyes to involve more players than just Boom Herron in the running game.
5. Special Teams. Did you really expect anything else? After yet another breakdown on the coverage units, Ohio State has once again adjusted personnel and had another week of practice emphasizing the importance of lane integrity. Kickoff specialist Drew Basil must improve his distance and, most importantly, his height on kickoffs, and the coverage units must own their lane. Purdue is near last in the country in both punt and kick returns, so this is the perfect game for the special teams to dominate.