COLUMBUS — A week ago Garrett Wilson felt stressed when he had to watch Ohio State’s football game against Nebraska from home because he was physically unable to play.
Saturday afternoon, he felt fine but Purdue’s defensive backs were feeling stressed when he caught three touchdown passes and scored another on a 51-yard run when OSU rolled over the Boilermakers 59-31 at Ohio Stadium.
The junior wide receiver was a big part of an offensive renaissance by the Buckeyes after back-to-back games against Penn State and Nebraska which produced victories but fell considerably short of what was expected offensively.
No. 4 Ohio State (9-1, 7-0 Big Ten) had 624 yards of total offense. Quarterback C.J. Stroud completed 31 of 38 passes for 361 yards and five touchdowns. TreVeyon Henderson rushed for 98 yards and his back-up Miyan Williams outdid that with 117 yards.
Wilson caught 10 passes for 126 yards and Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Chris Olave both had nine catches. And after getting only two touchdowns in nine trips inside the red zone against Penn State and Nebraska, the Buckeyes went four for six in that category against Purdue.
OSU coach Ryan Day said, “I think it was a good win in November against a team that is dangerous. We came out and played well early and created some turnovers. We certainly made a lot of plays on the perimeter. In the run game we moved the line of scrimmage, something we’d been talking about as an offense, and finished drives in the red zone.”
Stroud said, “I feel like this is our offense’s best game.”
Wilson said, “Honestly, I just came out here and did what I love doing. I missed last week not being able to be out there with my brothers and to come back and be able to go out there on offense and have the game I had, it feels good for sure.”
Ohio State built a 45-17 lead by halftime after scoring 35 points in the game’s first 16 ½ minutes with big plays, a nearly flawless passing game and some help from Purdue, which lost two fumbles and had a 16-yard punt, all of which OSU converted into touchdowns.
“That’s a heck of a half for sure,” Day said. He said he saw good things from Stroud in practice last week and that carried over to the game.
“I thought C. J. had the best preparation of the season this week. He was on his game. He really put a lot of work in and I was glad to see it paid off for him,” he said.
The Buckeyes scored the first time they had the ball after a 16-yard Purdue punt set them up at the Boilermakers’ 39-yard line.
Five plays later Stroud connected with Wilson for a 21-yard touchdown pass with 11:45 left in the first quarter. Purdue tied the game at 7-7 on a touchdown pass from quarterback Aidan O’Connell to Jackson Anthrop on its next possession.
Henderson got the first of his two touchdowns in the first half when he ended a 6-play, 78-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.
After Jerron Cage recovered a Purdue fumble at OSU’s 43-yard line, Henderson struck again with a 57-yard touchdown run for a 21-7 lead.
Back-to-back touchdown passes by Stroud pushed the lead to 35-7 with almost 10 minutes left in the first half.
First, he hit Smith-Njigba with a 20-yard scoring pass. Then, after OSU recovered a Purdue fumble on the kickoff after that touchdown, he threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Wilson.
Purdue cut the lead to 35-14 on a 7-yard touchdown pass from O’Connell to Broc Thompson.
But Ohio State responded with a 51-yard touchdown by Wilson after he took a handoff from Stroud to make it 42-14. Purdue’s Mitchell Fineran hit a 32-yard field goal to cut OSU’s lead to 42-17. Noah Ruggles’ 30-yard field goal with 18 seconds left in the first half put the Buckeyes in front 45-17.
OSU went up 52-17 on Stroud’s third touchdown pass of the day to Wilson on its first possession of the second half.
Purdue cut the lead to 52-31 late in the third quarter but that was as close as the Boilermakers (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten) could get. OSU’s final score came on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Stroud to Olave early in the fourth quarter.
O’Connell was 40 of 52 for 390 yards and four touchdowns for Purdue. His No. 1 target David Bell had 11 catches for 103 yards.
Day said this game could give OSU confidence going into its games against Michigan State this Saturday and Michigan a week later.
“I think it’s going to build a lot of confidence. Not that our guys are lacking confidence but I just think that after the last couple weeks we were a little on edge. We just wanted to get back in this game, score in the red zone and get our noses dirty a little bit. And I think we did that,” he said.