DALLAS — The Heart of Dallas Bowl kicks off the sporting New Year on Tuesday, and it's a misnamed matchup.
If anyone had a heart, OSU would not be playing Purdue. OSU would be in a better bowl, befitting a team that tied for third in the Big 12. And Purdue, already cursed by administrators who fired their coach after the regular season, would not be playing a foe so ill-suited for Boilermaker success.
The Vegas crowd picks this game as the most lopsided of the bowls. The Cowboys are 17-point favorites, and it would be a surprise if it's closer than that.
The OSU offense, so efficient that it's hummed with three different quarterbacks this season, all of whom have thrown for at least 1,000 yards and recorded at least one victory each over a bowl team, seems a little much for a mediocre Big Ten defense that hasn't seen anything like this.
“We've got our hands full,” admitted Purdue safety Landon Feichter. “They spread it out and they throw the ball. As a DB, it's going to be fun. It's going to be real fun.”
We'll see how long the fun lasts. Purdue's only hope is to stuff the OSU run game. Make the Cowboys one-dimensional, which happens from time to time, and maybe Purdue has a chance.
“This game's going to be won on the offensive and defensive lines,” said Purdue coach Patrick Higgins. “Whoever can create a consistent running game, they're going to have a huge advantage in this game.”
Purdue has a stout defensive line. Kawaan Short is an All-American defensive tackle. The Boilermakers held Ohio State to 152 rushing yards and Notre Dame to 100 less than that. But neither the Buckeyes nor Fighting Irish sport a passing attack anything close to OSU's caliber.
“It's really hard, going against a team that's always passing the ball around,” said Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen. “But that's what we get our scholarship for.”
A few teams have corralled OSU tailback Joseph Randle. He had 80 yards against Kansas, 74 against West Virginia and 43 against Kansas State. Randle reached 100 yards on all nine other opponents.
OSU needs Randle to find running room, else the burden increases on quarterback Clint Chelf.
Mike Gundy says the Cowboys aren't good enough to just wing it every play. “We were good enough to do that with (Brandon) Weeden,” Gundy said. “For two years, we had an NFL quarterback.”
Purdue ranked ninth in Big Ten rushing defense, allowing 179.3 yards a game. OSU ranked second in Big 12 rushing, 215.5 yards. Split the difference, and the Cowboys are up close to 200 yards on the ground. That figure would produce an OSU blowout.
“They have a good enough defense, they'll be able to keep up with us,” said OSU guard Lane Taylor. “Obviously, the Big Ten, they run the ball a lot, so they're going to be very good run-stoppers.”
Maybe. But I'm skeptical. Notre Dame, Ohio State, Minnesota, Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan. Stop me when I name a Purdue opponent that can throw the ball with precision and rapidity.
There's a reason this one looks like a blowout. Purdue appears not only overmatched, but mismatched.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.