A WIN over the Purdue Boilermakers Saturday would give the Ohio State Buckeyes a golden opportunity to advance a little more toward first place in the Leaders Division of the Big Ten Conference, but a golden hue also will draw attention on the field at West Lafayette.
Although the Purdue Boilermakers' official mascot is a replica of a Victorian-era locomotive and they have Purdue Pete who performs with the cheerleaders, the university also has some golden sights in addition to the colors on the football uniforms.
Purdue's Golden Girl, the Golduster Dance Team and the Golden Silks Color Guard, associated with the marching band, all gain attention during Purdue's games.
MerrieBeth Cox, who began as the Golden Girl in 2008, was selected as Miss Majorette of America, the highest national honor for twirling, in 2009 during a contest at the University of Notre Dame. The Golden Girl tradition began in 1954, and the individual selected for that honor ranks among the nation's best twirlers.
Although golden is great, it'll be scarlet and gray uniforms on the field that will be the main attraction for the Buckeye Nation.
To date, OSU has won three consecutive Leaders Division games and has improved to 3-2 in the Big Ten and 6-3 overall. Purdue, which lost last week to Wisconsin, has a 2-3 division record and a 4-5 mark overall.
Saturday's game marks the first time that the Boilermakers will be host to the Buckeyes in Ross-Ade Stadium since 2009. Some of today's Buckeyes undoubtedly remember that game when Purdue produced an upset of 26-18 for seventh-ranked Ohio State.
Earlier in 2009, Danny Hope became Purdue's 34th head football coach. The previous year, he was associate head coach, working with the Boilermakers' offensive line, managing recruiting and monitoring academics.
Hope was named to the associate coaching position Jan. 11, 2008, with a succession plan in place for him to become head coach upon the retirement of Joe Tiller at the end of the year. Hope is under contract through the 2014 season.
The 2009 game and Purdue's good fortune were mentioned during Tuesday's press conference involving linebacker Tyler Moeller, and he was asked if special note was taken of them this week. He said, "Not really. Those things are in the back of people's minds, but you can't really take into effect those things. It's a different team every year."
OSU, however, leads 12-7 in games in West Lafayette.
The Buckeyes' largest victory over the Boilermakers, according to Purdue's Web site, was 49-0 in 2010 - yes, I know that season was vacated by OSU, but it plays havoc and is very inconvenient regarding records.
"See how they run" appeared to be the Buckeye theme last week when they downed the Indiana Hoosiers, 34-20.
Although he is only a freshman, quarterback Braxton Miller set an Ohio State record for the longest rush by a quarterback with his 81-yard touchdown run against the Hoosiers.
Ohio State last week had three players top 100 yards rushing in a game for the first time in 22 years and for the fourth time in school history vs. Indiana. They are Miller and running backs Dan "Boom" Herron and Carlos Hyde.
Although Miller's ankle was injured in last week's game, Fickell said Boom was sore Sunday, but "able to move around. Felt better than the week before. I would believe he'll be all right today (Tuesday) to move around some.
Later when asked about Miller's injury, Fickell said, "You have to roll with some punches and kicks. He's got that knack."
Moeller and Fickell both fielded questions about the OSU team's identity.
"We have a strong identity. We're tough," said Moeller. "Anything that comes our way, I think we can handle. We dealt with so many things on the field, off the field this year. If something happens, I think guys are doing a great job of handling it, kind of just shrugging it off, handling it face up. That's the biggest thing about our team, we handle adversity."
Fickell commented, "We're not there saying we're trying to set a new identity. This is Ohio State football. We've had an identity for over a hundred years. We have a great base for what we are and what we believe in. It's just a continued growth of that. Might be a little bit more of a focus on some specific things because of who we are and who we have right now."
The coach also said he thinks the team has "realized the things that we put in front of them., that it's about the effort, the turnovers, the toughness side of things. We'll continue to grow and develop. Still doesn't change."
Despite the Purdue's loss to Wisconsin, Boilermaker Raheem Mostert was selected as the Nov. 7 Big Ten Freshman of the Week with his record-setting performance. He broke the school's record for both total kickoff return yardage and average yardage per kickoff return.
It was the first weekly honor in the freshman wide receiver's career and second for a Purdue player this season. In late October, Hoosier defensive tackle Kawann Short was Big Ten co-defensive player of the week.
So far this season, the Boilermakers have defeated Middle Tennessee State, 27-24; Southeast Missouri, 59-0; Minnesota, 45-17; and Illinois, 21-14. Their losses are to Rice when the score was 24-22; Notre Dame, 38-10; Penn State, 23-18; Michigan, 36-14; and Wisconsin, 62-17.
The overall series record, as shown by OSU, notes the Buckeyes are ahead 37-13-2 (this doesn't include the 2010 game).
Saturday's game, which will begin at noon, is to be televised by the Big Ten Network.