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Purdue's margin for bowl error is small

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For more on Purdue athletics, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at pdiprimio

Boilers need leaders to step up

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 9:03 am

The numbers don't lie. If Purdue (4-5) is to become bowl eligible after a three-year drought, it has to win two of its last three games.

That means beating Ohio State on Saturday and Iowa on Nov. 19, both at Ross-Ade Stadium, before ending the regular season Nov. 28 at Indiana.

The key, coach Danny Hope said, is senior leadership.

“The leaders have to step up. The season has come to a critical time, crunch time in some ways, and if you want to be champions, if you want to get a ring and have a special season, you have to step up.”

Hope said the program has three main goals – excel academically, have fun playing football and to become champions. There are lots of opportunities to become champions depending on how many games you win. We're still in position to do that.”

Big Ten honors Mostert

Raheem Mostert's record-setting day against Wisconsin last Saturday earned him Big Ten freshman of the week honors. Mostert totaled 206 yards on five returns to break the Purdue record of 184 yards on six returns by Stan Brown against Ohio State in 1969. His 41.2-yard average broke Brown's record of 39.5 set on four returns against Iowa in 1969.

Mostert had returns of 74, 49, 40, 22 and 21 yards against Wisconsin.

He's the second Boiler to receive a Big Ten weekly honor. Defensive tackle Kawaan Short won after his performance against Illinois last month.

Mostert's season average of 31.6 yards per return rates sixth nationally and second in the Big Ten.

Mackey Arena celebration

Purdue is using this weekend to officially debut renovated Mackey Arena with its Mackey Arena Celebration. It will feature four events in three days -- Purdue hosting Northern Illinois in the men's basketball season opener on Friday night, the Boilers hosting Ohio State in football on Saturday, Purdue hosting Nebraska in volleyball Saturday night and the Lady Boilers hosting IUPUI on Sunday.

Also, in a change, Saturday's Purdue-Ohio State game will be broadcast by radio station WOWO, 1190-AM, rather than the regular affiliate, WKJG, 1380-AM.

Pass shy, run strong

The Buckeyes are not the greatest passing show on earth -- or the Big Ten. Among major colleges their passing attack ranks 118th nationally. Only two teams are worse than their 115.4-yard average -- Navy and Army.

Ohio State has just 31 completions in five Big Ten games. It beat Illinois by throwing just four passes.

That reflects quarterback in experience. True freshman Braxton Miller completes just 51.4 percent of his passes for 547 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. However, he's the Buckeyes' second leading rusher with 447 yards and a 4.8-yards-per-carry average. He burned Indiana last Saturday with a career-high 105 rushing yards.

However, he was only 5-for-11 passing for 55 yards and an interception.

“He's a dual-threat guy,” Hope said. “He has not passed a whole lot this season. They're working on their passing game and you can see they're trying to expand it.

“He has an excellent arm. He's thrown well at times. He can beat you with his arm and his feet. He's fast, elusive and has good players around him. When he has the ball, he can make something happen.”

Tailback Carlos Hyde leads Ohio State in rushing, with 515 yards and a 5.5-yard-per-carry average. However, Dan Herron has led the way the last three games after coming off of suspension. He's rushed for 415 yards with a 5.9-yard-per-carry average.

“Herron is a great player,” Hope said. “He's a difference-maker. He's one of the top backs in the league, and has to be one of the top backs in the country. That takes a lot of pressure off of their quarterback.”

Redshirt freshman tailback Rod Smith has rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown. The former Harding standout averages 4.0 yards a carry. He also plays on special teams.

November strong

Ohio State has dominated November. Since 2005 the Buckeyes are 15-1 in that month.

The Buckeyes are coming off a closer than expected 34-20 victory over Indiana that wasn't decided until the final minutes. Still, three players rushed for more than 100 yards – Herron, Miller and Hyde.

Ohio State is 21-1 when Herron runs for at least 55 yards.

He's a big reason why the Buckeyes have averaged 267 rushing yards over the last four games. So is a veteran offensive line led by All-American center Mike Brewster and left tackle Mike Adams. They rushed for 346 yards against IU, their most in 15 years.