2018 Game Preview: Ohio State vs Minnesota
Ohio State Preview: Ohio State won a closer than comfort game against Indiana, who probably felt confident by only trailing by 8 at halftime, before getting beat 49-26. With the Penn State nerves brushed off, it should be a more consistent effort from the Scarlet and Gray.
Dwayne Haskins has the third most passing yards in the NCAA, behind Washington State’s Gardner Minshew and Hawaii’s Cole McDonald. He does however lead the nation is passing touchdowns at 25, and does not look to be slowing down. In the Heisman race, it feels currently a three man race with Haskins, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, and West Virginia’s Will Grier. Dwayne will have another opportunity to pad his stats against an inferior and young defense who have given up 83 points the last two games.
JK Dobbins and Mike Weber are still alternating series for the running back position. JK Dobbins is leading borht running backs, but Mike Weber has been solid between the tackles, while Dobbins has been a solid screen and passing option for the offense. They have not had the same performance since the Oregon State game, but it is hard to argue the offensive production when the team is still averaging 566 yards a game, which is second only behind Alabama.
There can not be enough praise for the wide receivers, who need a different name than Zone 6, but they have been a bright spot for this offense. Dwayne Haskins is not getting the yardage he has been passing for without help, and each receiver is willing to step up to make the play. Parris Campbell leads all receivers with 501 receiving yards, and 7 touchdowns. 10 Buckeyes have recorded a receiving touchdown and 5 of those receivers have more 2 or more. Look for this group to have a big day Saturday.
The defense is still a work in progress, but they are making strides. At the halfway mark through the season, Ohio State knows what it needs to work on to compete. At this moment, the defense can carry them as far as the Big Ten Championship, but needs to clean up its assignments to carry the team to a national championship.
Minnesota Preview: Minnesota is currently in 6th place in the Big Ten West, with a 0-2 conference record, losing to Maryland and Iowa. The come into Ohio Stadium on a two game losing streak, and looking to bounce back. PJ Fleck is in his second season as the head coach, after finishing 5-7 and 6th in the Big Ten West.
The offense is lead by freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad, who has 944 yards passing for the season, along with 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He has completed 52% percent of his passes, but looked strong in the non-conference segment of their schedule.
The Golden Gophers have plethora of running backs who have over 20 carries for the season, and are lead by freshman Bryce Williams, who has 311 yards on 79 carries, and a touchdown. Behind him is fellow freshman Mohamed Ibrahim, who has 258 yards rushing on 48 carries. Look for Williams to get the bulk of the carries, and could be a non factor if Minnesota is playing from behind most of the game. Both backs have they ability to break one as well.
The wide receivers are lead by junior Tyler Johnson, who leads the team with 28 receptions and 402 yards, along with 6 touchdowns. Rashod Batemen has been the second leading target with 27 catches and 257 yards receiving, to go along with 3 touchdowns. They are the only players to have passing touchdown receptions.
The defense has not been the same after it lost Antoine Winfield, Jr for the season, and is the son of former Buckeye great Antoine Winfield. His career had unfortunately been plaqued by injuries after only appearing in 4 games last year. The defense gives up an average of 23 points per game, but gave up 48 points to Iowa last week, and 42 points to Maryland the week before. Look for them to be susceptible to the elite passing attach by Ohio State.
Buckeye Spotlight: Kendall Sheffield. He was picked on last week by the Hoosiers, and should look to bounce that this week. One thing that has been missing with our defense has been interceptions, and that could be by design coverage. Look for Sheffield to clean up some of his coverage, and make a turn around from last week.
Golden Gopher Spotlight: Tyler Johnson. He has been quarterback Zack Annexstad’s favorite target, and he has 6 touchdowns on the season, along with 402 yards. He could challlenge our secondary, who still seem to be in a man coverage. With Isiah Pryor back, and hopefully a healthy Fuller, they should be able to contain him. Kendall Sheffield was picked on by Indiana, so look for Minnesota to try and set up that match up.
Water Cooler Stat of the Game: 44-9. Ohio State leads the all time series 44-9 against the Golden Gophers, including the last 9 in a row. the longest win streak in the series by Ohio State is 16 games in a row, which was 1982-1999. The last time these two teams plays was in 2015, where Ohio State won 28-14.
Prediction: This should be an easy win for Ohio State. They should have the rest now after the sluggish start against Indiana, and will have this game early in the day, letting them wake up, beat Minnesota, and rest up before the road trip Purdue. Minnesota should challenge the weakened defense for a few series, but if the Silver Bullets play like they should, this won’t be a close game. Ohio State wins this one to improve 7-0.