The Gophers are looking to snap a two-game losing streak this weekend when they take on the #3 Ohio State Buckeyes. It’s a final tune-up for the Gophers and Buckeyes, who take on their biggest rivals, Wisconsin and Michigan, respectively, in the last week of the season.
For both teams, a win in the final game of the season would be significant. For the Gophers, it would be the third consecutive win over the Badgers, an accomplishment not achieved in the past 35 years. A win would likely be the Gophers’ sixth of the season, making them bowl-eligible. For Ohio State, a win would have implications for the Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoffs. A win would also quiet Buckeye fans, most of whom will not tolerate three consecutive losses to Michigan.
Minnesota is a four-touchdown underdog against Ohio State, so few expect a close game. Look for both teams to be more conservative with playcalling this week and potentially rest players as the game unfolds. Minnesota and Ohio State want to avoid injuries and save any tricks up their sleeves for the final game of the season.
- Date: Saturday, November 25
- Time 3:00 PM CST
- Location: Ohio Stadium
- TV: BTN
- Radio: KFAN
- Record: Minnesota (5-5 Overall, 3-4 Big Ten), Ohio State (10-0 Overall, 7-0 Big Ten)
- Spread: Michigan -28
- Over/Under: 49.5
- Money Line: Minnesota +1800, Michigan -4000
Gophers Offense vs. Buckeyes Defense
The Gophers have struggled in the last two games but not specifically because of the offense. They have averaged 28 points per game in the last two losses, which is sufficient to beat a Big Ten West opponent. Athan Kaliakmanis has shown improvement recently and threw for 459 yards for six touchdowns and no interceptions against Illinois and Purdue. He is completing 52.2% of his passes on the season and needs to be more efficient, but he has done enough to win the past two games. Gopher pass catchers – Daniel Jackson, Chris Autman-Bell, and Brevyn Spann-Ford – have all performed well lately, too.
Minnesota has dealt with injuries in the running back room, which has affected the quality and consistency of the rushing attack. Though running back Jordan Nubin has performed admirably, he doesn’t have the high ceiling of Darius Taylor or Zach Evans. With Bryce Williams out for the season and Sean Tyler in the doghouse due to chronic fumbling issues, the Gophers have limited depth at the position.
Minnesota takes on a Buckeyes team that doesn’t get enough credit for their defense. Through ten games, Ohio State is #4 in FBS in total yards allowed, #2 in yards allowed per play, and tied for #2 for total touchdowns allowed. Ohio State’s stout rushing defense will create issues for Gopher running backs and put pressure on Kaliakmanis to make plays. The Buckeye’s defense has been banged up lately, but they won’t need to be at full strength to cause headaches for Minnesota.
Gophers Defense vs. Buckeyes Offense
The Gopher defense has been downright ugly recently and had issues with all three levels of play. They have given up explosive plays to teams and had schematic mistakes, both of which are uncharacteristic of a Joe Rossi defense. One of Minnesota’s best defense players, Cody Lindenberg, has missed most of the season, and his backup, Maverick Baranowski, was knocked out last week with an injury. The Gophers hope to escape Columbus without adding any more names to the injury list.
Ohio State is led by quarterback Kyle McCord, runningback TreVeyon Henderson, and Heisman-hopeful wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., They have a balanced and explosive offense that will test the Gophers in every way. The Buckeyes may use a conservative offense approach against the Gophers but should still put up points on Minnesota. Look for Harrison Jr. to have a strong first half before Ryan Day pulls the starters once the game is under control.
Did You Know?
- Minnesota is 3-13 all-time when playing the #3 team in the AP Poll, with their last win coming in 1956 against Michigan State
- Minnesota has three Ohio natives on its roster: Phillip Daniels (Princeton), Jacob Lewis (Olentangy Berlin), and Devon Williams (Dublin Coffman).
- P.J. Fleck started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio State in 2006
- The Gophers 12-game losing streak against the Buckeyes is their longest losing streak against one opponent
- The last time Minnesota beat Ohio State, Gopher receiver Ron Johnson caught eight passes for 163 yards and a touchdown
- Tyler Nubin needs one interception to own the school record for most career interceptions
- The Gophers achieved a Minnesota Scorigami when they lost to Purdue, 49-30. It was the first time in 1,317 Gophers games that a game ended with this exact score! For more information about college football Scoragami, check this out.
The #3 Ohio State Buckeyes are on a different level than the Minnesota Gophers, and they have dynamic playmakers at many positions. The Gopher’s defense has regressed significantly in the past two games, and they face an uphill battle against a likely CFP-bound Big Ten team. Kaliakmanis has improved since the bye week, but even a solid performance won’t translate to a high-scoring game.
Is it possible that the Buckeyes overlook the Gophers and already have their sights set on Michigan? Yes, although this still doesn’t have the making of a trap game. Ohio State is simply too good, and the Gophers, unfortunately, just aren’t. The Buckeyes will start fast and then hit cruise control in the second half. Look for kicker Dragan Kesich to attempt a couple of long field goals to put some points on the board for Minnesota. The final score may not look like a blowout, but the Buckeyes will have the game under control from start to finish.
Projection: Gophers lose 13-38