Ohio State has a massive showdown in Ann Arbor eight days from now, but before that happens, the Buckeyes must take care of business at home against Minnesota. P.J. Fleck’s squad comes in struggling of late, losing back-to-back games to Illinois and Purdue.
Ohio State’s offense put together its best first half effort of the season a week ago against Michigan State before pulling many of its starters early in the second half.
Will Ohio State continue to make progress on offense and block out all of the distractions coming from up north or will Minnesota put a scare into the Buckeyes?
Although Minnesota is a better team than Michigan State, Ohio State needs another good first half to build momentum to Michigan. Look for Ryan Day to try to get Emeka Egbuka involved early and often, while building on the Buckeyes’ increased use of gap and play action schemes.
Defensively, Ohio State would greatly benefit from Tommy Eichenberg and Josh Proctor’s return, allowing the Buckeye defense to similarly get ready for next week. Minnesota’s use of heavy formations will provide a good early test.
Ohio State 43 Minnesota 12
In the Bold Predictions episode of Buckeye Weekly, I predicted a shutout for the Buckeyes. I am under no contractual obligation to keep my boldness levels at 11 for our staff predictions, but I certainly don’t expect the Minnesota offense to go crazy. The Ohio State defense is built to destroy bad offenses, and Minnesota has a pretty bad offense. This shouldn’t be too dissimilar from last week’s game against Michigan State in that you’ll see some young faces and quite a bit of rotation defensively.
Offensively, this should be another step forward for the offense, but it will only mean so much. Purdue put 600 yards up on the Gophers last week, so the Buckeyes should be able to do something extensive as long as they want to. Points will happen in bunches and in a hurry. Enjoy Marvin Harrison, Jr.’s last game in Ohio Stadium. Hell, enjoy a BUNCH of Buckeyes’ last game in Ohio Stadium. If you’re at the game, cheer loudly. Look for Kyle McCord to find Xavier Johnson and Julian Fleming as well. Actually, there’s too many offensive guys leaving after this year for them all to score, but they’ll do what they can.
Ohio State 45 Minnesota 10
Ohio State can take a lot of positives from last week’s game against Michigan State. A notoriously slow-starting offense put together its best half of the entire season in putting that game away early.
This team has to continue to not pay attention to the goings on in Ann Arbor and focus on the task at hand and the leadership group in place here seems to be more than capable of doing just that. Minnesota is a wounded animal coming into this game and just like last week, you have to remove any hope from that group right away.
I think Kyle McCord has another strong game, the Buckeye defense continues to shine, and Ohio State wins big in a game that will probably be a little more competitive in the first half than last week’s contest.
Ohio State 42 Minnesota 13
I have had to go back and check my predictions and scores from previous games this season because it feels as if Ohio State has played this game on a loop over the course of the season. Enter Ohio State, a defensive-minded team with plenty of talent on offense waiting to emerge onto the scene. Enter, checks notes, Minnesota, a team that is down on its luck, seemingly overmatched with a subpar offense and a defense that just can’t carry this team to the finish line.
Ohio State knows what awaits it next week with Michigan, so if there ever was a week to get out to a quick start and put a game away early, it is this one. Minnesota needs a win in the worst way to get bowl eligible, but it is not going to be this week as the Gophers defense is giving up at least 24 points to anyone with a pulse. Ohio State has one of those, and a defense too. On to Michigan, I have seen enough.
Ohio State 42 Minnesota 9
This weekend’s game should look and feel a lot like last weekend’s did.
PJ Fleck has had some impressive teams at Minnesota over the years,
but this is not one of them. The Gophers figure to struggle to throw
the ball effectively, and while their rushing attack is okay, a
one-dimensional offense is not going to be able to consistently
sustain long drives against the Buckeye defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes have an opportunity to
light up a shaky Gopher secondary, getting Emeka Egbuka back into the
rhythm of the game, getting Marvin Harrison, Jr. his Heisman numbers,
and most importantly, getting the starters off the field and safely to
the bench sometime early in the second half.
Whether the Buckeyes win by one or 100 doesn’t matter a bit. They just
need to get in, get out with a win, and get on to the biggest week of
Ohio State 38 Minnesota 10