COLUMBUS, Ohio - Urban Meyer put out an urgent call this week for tough guys to stop the bleeding for a porous defense. Who could have imagined Ohio State's high-scoring offense would be the ones in need Saturday?
But when a miracle was needed, the offense and the defense came through big time with the Buckeyes on the brink of their first loss this season.
Running back Carlos Hyde bulled into the end zone from 1 yard in overtime and the defense stopped Purdue on its possession, giving Ohio State an improbable 29-22 comeback victory before 105,290 in Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes rallied in the final minute of regulation when all seemed lost. They pulled into a 22-22 tie when backup quarterback Kenny Guiton, subbing for injured Braxton Miller, threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Fields and then connected with tight end Jeff Heuerman on a two-point conversion with three seconds remaining.
The seventh-ranked Buckeyes boosted their record to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten. Meyer remained unbeaten in his first season with one of the most dramatic victories in his coaching career.
"That was a great, great win - a team win," Meyer said.
The Buckeyes appeared doomed when Miller went down with a head injury late in the third quarter and later was taken to Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center for examination. An Ohio State spokesman said Miller was examined for shoulder, head and neck injuries and cleared by doctors to be released.
The Heisman Trophy candidate remained on the turf for several minutes after he was thrown to the ground on a hard tackle by Purdue cornerback Josh Johnson at the end of a 39-yard run. Trainers helped Miller off the field and then assisted him onto a cart for the locker room.
But in the end, the Buckeyes persevered without their standout sophomore quarterback.
"I'm still trying to figure this bad boy out," said Meyer, who boosted his career record in overtime games to 5-0. "Did we win?
"I've never seen anything swing like that."
Purdue had taken the lead midway through the third quarter and tacked on a safety early in the fourth quarter for a 22-14 lead.
Quarterback Caleb TerBush threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to running back Gary Bush on a screen to put Purdue (3-4, 0-3) in front 20-14. The Boilermakers added a safety when an illegal block in the back penalty was called against the Buckeyes with 10:11 left in the fourth quarter.
Purdue appeared to have the victory in hand when Guiton threw a late fourth-quarter interception. But the Ohio State defense held and gave the offense one last chance with 47 seconds left. It resulted in the tying touchdown by Hyde, who finished with 91 yards on 19 carries.
Meyer never lost confidence in Guiton, whom he called his right-hander out of the bullpen. Guiton was 5 of 10 for 60 yards but none of his completions were bigger than in the overtime.
"He threw the pick and I grabbed him," Meyer said. "I said you're going to go win us a game. He looked right at me. I think he was down. I think that moment kind of picked him up."
The Buckeyes totaled 342 yards, five less than Purdue's 347, and 152 yards rushing, their lowest output of the season. Linebacker Ryan Shazier led the Ohio State defense with 12 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss and one pass breakup.
"I thought our defense … it might have been their best performance this year," Meyer said.
Purdue coach Danny Hope lamented the painful loss.
"We didn't manufacture enough pass rush and Ohio State was able to get better protection than I thought they should have been able to get," he said. "They made the plays they needed to and we didn't."
After a lackluster first half, the Buckeyes came to life early in the third quarter, erasing a 13-7 halftime deficit with a 2-yard touchdown run by Hyde to go up 14-13.
Ohio State trailed at halftime for the first time this season after its worst performance offensively in eight games. The Buckeyes were held to 101 yards and just 49 on the ground.
Miller, who came into the game ranked third in the Big Ten in rushing, managed just 4 yards on the ground and 52 yards passing in the opening half. Miller ended up completing 9 of 20 passes for 113 yards and rushing for 47 yards on 12 carries before he exited.
Purdue stunned the Buckeyes' much-maligned defense on the first play of the game with wide receiver Akeem Shavers got behind the defense and TerBush found him for an 83-yard touchdown pass.
Later in the first quarter, Miller capped a 10-play, 67-yard march with an 8-yard touchdown run that put Ohio State in front 7-6. Hyde kept the drive alive with a 20-yard run on fourth-and-short at the Purdue 45.
An Ohio State special-teams breakdown followed. Akeem Hunt took off down the right sideline and broke free for a 100-yard kickoff return that pushed Purdue back in front at 13-7 with 5:17 left in the first quarter.
Seemingly about the give up another score in the second quarter, the Buckeyes defense held when safety C.J. Barnett intercepted in the end zone a TerBush pass that was tipped by Shazier, ending a 19-play, 85-yard drive spanning 10:32 of the first and second quarters.
NOTES: The Buckeyes haven't lost at home to Purdue since 1988, … Ohio State hasn't lost back-to-back games to Purdue since 1967. The Boilermakers won in overtime last year in West Lafayette, Ind. … Meyer is the first Big Ten coach since 1946 to win seven or more games in his first season. The others are former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, who won his first 11 games in 1979, and legendary Michigan coach Bernie Oosterbaan (1948). ... Wide receiver Corey Brown sustained a head injury during the game and left the game. Freshman Devan Bogard suffered a knee injury. Brown had three catches for 44 yards.