With a win over Minnesota, Ohio State has the chance to do what it hasn’t done since 2020. Or, of course, 2019 if you don’t count the COVID year. The Buckeyes will run the table on their home schedule. Minnesota is coming to town for Ohio State’s Senior Day and the Buckeyes will have one more opportunity to tune up before their massive showdown with Michigan in Ann Arbor.
To this point, Minnesota has struggled and Ohio State can take advantage. This will be the 54th meeting between these two programs. The Buckeyes own a commanding 46-7 lead and have won each of the last 11. The last time these two faced off, it was C.J. Stroud‘s first game and the Buckeye defense was night and day worse than it is today. Thankfully, they don’t have a Mo Ibrahim to worry about this time.
Buckeyes Can Finish With Perfect Home Record With a Win
Keep Stifling the Run
To this point, Ohio State has put up the 22nd-best rushing defense by allowing just 112.4 yards per game. That number got inflated thanks to Rutgers’ 43 attempts for 232 yards two weeks ago. It was the worst performance by this Ohio State defense all year and was only the second instance where it allowed more than four yards per carry.
Minnesota may not have the Big Ten’s best rushing attack but it has a phenomenal freshman in Darius Taylor who, unfortunately, has been out for about a month. Despite that, he leads the team in rushing with 591 in just five games. Since there is a real fear that he will transfer out in a few weeks, the Buckeyes get to focus on Jordan Nubin. However, aside from a massive 204-yard (off of 40 rushing attempts) performance against Michigan State, Nubin has been a non-factor.
Even without star defensive tackle, Mike Hall, Jr., who will likely be sidelined. Ohio State should be able to continue its dominance in the ground game with the likes of Tyleik Williams gumming up the middle. Force Athan Kaliakmanis to win over the top and Ohio State will be able to utilize underclassmen in the second half. Allowing the starters to rest up for Michigan.
Barring another underwhelming week-before-Michigan performance, the Buckeyes should be okay in this one. They’re currently favored by nearly four touchdowns. Now, Vegas is not infallible but, as they say, “the house always wins.”
Miyan Williams and Lathan Ransom have been officially declared out for the regular season and the Buckeyes have a few others who are dealing with injuries. If there is one thing that needs focus this week, it’s to get healthy.
If there are any players with so much as a limp, it should be considered to just sit them down. Hall will likely not play on the defensive line this week. There’s a fear he will be gone next week as well. Emeka Egbuka, who missed two games prior to last week, evidently reinjured his ankle and looked a tad hobbled in the second half against Michigan State.
Devin Brown suffered an injury a few weeks back and was seemingly okay after coming up lame in warm-ups. If Ohio State is as serious as it seems with Brown’s role in the Red Zone, Brown will not suit up for this game.
Plain and simple. Ohio State needs to get as healthy as possible to make sure it can give Michigan its best shot. The game plan should be to get up early and pull anyone worthwhile. It’s not about style points at this point. The CFP Committee believes Ohio State is a top-four team so far. Assuming three straight wins, its spot in the four-team playoff is settled. The main goal is to get healthy and ready for yet another massive top-three matchup.
Honor the Seniors
With the free COVID year, eligibility years can get a bit confusing. What’s not confusing is this Ohio State team has a lot of veteran leadership. As the Senior Day festivities go on, the Buckeyes will have an opportunity to give thanks to each of their leaders for the last time they suit up at the Horseshoe.
There are 31 players on the Buckeyes’ roster who are seniors or graduates, according to the Ohio State website. Plus, guys like Marvin Harrison, Jr., TreVeyon Henderson, and Denzel Burke are juniors and could partake.
This Ohio State home slate can be finished off unblemished in a full season for the first time since Ryan Day’s first season. What better way to send off the seniors and get primed for The Game than to finish with a commanding win?
This will likely be the last semi-calm day in Columbus. The Game looms, then the potential Big Ten Championship, early National Signing Day, and bowl preparations follow.