Game 7 Recap: Ohio State 30 – Minnesota 14
For the second straight week, fans in the Horseshoe sat on edge for the home team who continued to show struggles on defense and caused this game to be closer than the spread. Minnesota, under PJ Fleck’s second year, seems like an improved team, and had a strategy to limit Ohio State’s high powered offense by running the clock down with simple play drives, and attack the man to man coverage with quick slants to eat up easy yardage. For the majority of the game, the strategy worked, as the Golden Gophers were able to total 396 yards, with 178 yards on the ground. Minnesota has a true freshman starting at quarterback Zack Annexstad, who did throw two interceptions on deep balls, but was able to connect on short yardage situations.
Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim was a difference make and help the Gophers with their sustained drives, gashing the Silver Bullet defense for several long runs, including a big 34 yard run. The Ohio State defense didn’t seem to have an answer for Minnesota, but was able to still convert 3 turnovers to help slow down Minnesota’s attack,
Dwayne Haskins played the whole game for the third straight week, and continued to build up his season stats, with 412 yards passing, and 3 touchdowns. His favorite target for the game was KJ Hill, who snagged two touchdown grabs, including a Sportscenter highlight one handed catch, and 187 receiving yards. Those are the most yards by an Ohio State receiver in a game since Santonio Holmes in 2004. Terry McLaurin hauled in the other touchdown pass, on top of his 55 yards receiving for the game.
The rushing attack for Ohio State has been on a decline since the first game on the season. What was once thought of as a great balancing act for the improved passing game, has become an after thought in the playbook. Mike Weber lead all rushers with 51 yards on 13 carries, and so far this season has been the more aggressive runner between himself and JK Dobbins. There were some injuries to the offensive line, but there doesn’t appear to be a big push up front to help open up holes for the talented running backs. This is an are of concern for the offense, but is something that can be worked on. This upcoming week against Purdue is a good opportunity to reestablish the running game as a threat.
The other improvement area for this team is on the defense. In 7 games, they have not improved in the passing defense or the limiting of big plays. Each game, they are giving up several plays of 20 yards or more, and for teams with competent offenses, they will take advantage of this weakness for the Buckeyes. There have been a few comparisons between this team and the 2013 team because of the struggles on defense, but for Ohio State fans, do not panic. Everything this is an issue can be corrected. The only problem is that it needs to be resolved before they play hopefully in the playoffs.
Minnesota definitely played tough, and was playing keep away. Like the Indiana game, It never felt like Ohio State was going to lose the game, but it was a game that was closer than most fans would have expected. The turning point was Dwayne Haskins’ pass to KJ Hill near the end of the 4th quarter to bring the lead to 30-14. Ohio State had caught a break with Minnesota missing it’s second field goal of the game, and took the ball down to score the final dagger.
Star of the Game
Dwayne Haskins, who will probable win Big Ten of the week honors for the 4th time this year, but he put up 412 yards passing and 3 touchdown passes in a game where Ohio State could not get anything going on the running game. He was once more accurate with his passes, once more tied to completions record in a game at 33, and is the only quarterback in Ohio State history to pass for 2 straight 400 yard passing games.
Ohio State once again didn’t look like a championship caliber team, but found a way to win behind Haskins’ 412 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. Although they didn’t look pretty, it was another weekend in the college football landscape that featured several upsets, including Georgia losing on the road to LSU, West Virginia losing to Iowa State, Washington losing to Oregon, and Penn State losing at home to Michigan State. At this point, it is win and survive to make it to the playoff, and so far, they are still one of the top 4 teams.
Ohio State (7-0) will travel to West Lafayette to play Purdue (3-3) at 7:30pm
Minnesota (3-3) will play at Nebraska (0-6) at 3:30pm
Photo credit to Buckeye Wire