COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A look at the hot topics and pressing concerns as Ohio State prepares for a visit from Purdue on Saturday at Ohio Stadium (TV: ABC, noon).
Boiling blood: Thanks to the vacated 2010 season, Purdue is officially bringing a two-game winning streak with it on the road this weekend. The Buckeyes haven't forgotten about their loss to the Boilermakers a year ago in overtime, and they've seemingly made a point to seek out revenge against everybody that had their number during the difficult season a year ago. The short, technical winning streak probably won't be weighing on Ohio State's mind much, but erasing the memory of one loss in particular should have the program fired up as it tries to stay unbeaten.
Ground and pound: Indiana made a choice to try to limit Braxton Miller's rushing ability on the perimeter, and it had some measured success against the Ohio State quarterback. But that came at the expense of some huge holes for Carlos Hyde between the tackles, and Miller himself took advantage up the middle on yet another long touchdown run. The Buckeyes have rushed for 724 yards as a team over the last two games -- and they will be completing the trifecta of playing against the three worst running defenses in the Big Ten all in a row when the Boilermakers try to slow them down.
Secondary issue: Only two teams in the conference have thrown more interceptions than Purdue's nine through six games. Nobody has picked off more passes in the Big Ten than Ohio State through seven games. That's not exactly a good recipe for the Boilermakers as they go on the road, and given a somewhat uncertain situation at quarterback, the Buckeyes could be in line to add to that total. Cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Travis Howard have made no secret about their desire to prove themselves as the best tandem in the league, and they'll be looking to jump a few routes against Purdue.
Tackle trouble: Missed tackles, big plays and lots of yardage allowed -- the Buckeyes and Boilermakers do have one thing in common heading into the weekend thanks to defenses that have been gouged at times due to poor fundamentals. What Purdue doesn't have is an offense that can quite cover up for mistakes as easily on the other side of the ball, and Ohio State also has proven it can buckle down when it has to even after giving up 38 and 49 points in wins over the last two weeks. The Buckeyes have enough talent and pro potential on defense to make their current spot at No. 10 in the league in total defense a head scratcher, and when they all get on the same page, they can change a game.
Lend a hand: Depth at linebacker wasn't a strength for Ohio State even going into the season, and the loss of senior Etienne Sabino only highlighted that fact even more. The Buckeyes had a few other players at the position dinged up last week in practice, and they were so concerned they moved perhaps the best fullback in the Big Ten over to defense to try to fill the void -- and Zach Boren wound up leading the team in tackles. Purdue can move the ball around a bit and averages more than 220 yards per game through the air, so a banged-up defense could really use another solid outing from Boren to complement Ryan Shazier's work at the second level.