The Ohio State Buckeyes were pushed to the limit on the road in Week 5 by Penn State, and they returned home last week to face off with an Indiana squad that put forth a spirited effort. While the #3 team in the nation remains unblemished, they have not had what could be described as a dominant win since Week 4.
Will this be the week that they make it happen, or will the visiting Minnesota Golden Gophers be the latest to give the Buckeyes a test? Let’s take a look at this matchup of Big Ten squads in detail.
Minnesota @ Ohio State, 12:00 PM EST, FS1
- Minnesota +29.5 (-106)
- Ohio State -29.5 (-114)
- Over 59 (-110)
- Under 59 (-110)
Minnesota vs. Ohio State pick:
The Minnesota Golden Gophers enter this game with a mark of 3-2, opening the season with three straight wins and dropping its last two. Concerningly, the clubs lost two opponents have dropped 40+ points on them. That’s not a good sign for a defense that will be tasked with attempting to keep the high-powered Ohio State Buckeyes in check.
Ohio State is a perfect 6-0, with its latest victory coming over the Indiana Hoosiers. The program is ranked #3 in the nation, behind the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs, and just ahead of the Clemson Tigers. The team is currently tied for first in the Big Ten East division with the rival Michigan Wolverines, while Minnesota takes down the number six spot in the Big Ten West division.
While we’re not quite halfway through the regular season, it has already been a tale of two seasons for the Golden Gophers. The team looked solid in its three consecutive victories to start the year, with its most impressive outing being a 48-10 rout of New Mexico State in the opener.
The competition level kicked up several notches after its three victories. The Maryland Terrapins took down Minnesota by a score of 42-13, while Iowa was a 48-31 victor in the Golden Gophers last outing. On the season, the program is actually outscoring opponents by a margin of 139-117, but its big offensive showing against New Mexico State is skewing that metric.
Freshman QB Zack Annexstad started off the season with a solid outing, but he has been inconsistent since then. Through five games, he’s completing 52.1 percent of his passes for 924 yards, eight touchdowns, and five picks. Freshman RB Bryce Williams has been leading the way out of the backfield with 79 carries for 311 yards and a score, while junior wideout Tyler Johnson has emerged as the top pass catching option with a line of 28/402/6.
All told, Minnesota is averaging 196.4 passing yards, 145 rushing yards, and 27.8 points per game. Defensively, the Golden Gophers are giving up 196.8 passing yards, 127.4 rushing yards, and 23.4 points per game, while the unit has generated eight sacks and eight turnovers. Looking ahead, Minnesota closes out the month with games against the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Indiana Hoosiers.
Offensive production has been anything but an issue for the Buckeyes, as the squad is outscoring opponents by a margin of 294-120. The team has scored 40 or more points in five of its six games, including a staggering 77 in the opener against Oregon State. Last week, Ohio State was a 49-26 victor over Indiana.
That victory came just a week after the Penn State Nittany Lions put a scare into the Buckeyes. Penn State had Ohio State on the ropes, but questionable play calling at the end insured the Buckeyes escaped with a 27-26 victory. Ohio State’s only other relatively close contest was a 40-28 victory over TCU.
Ohio State has a ton of weapons on offense. Sophomore QB Dwayne Haskins leads the way, and he is a legitimate contender for the Heisman Trophy. Haskins has thrown for 1,919 yards, 25 touchdowns, and four picks, and he has added on 43 rushing yards and another score on the ground for good measure.
The two-headed monster of sophomore J.K. Dobbins and junior Mike Weber have been holding down the fort in the backfield. Dobbins has toted the rock 99 times for 462 yards and four scores, while Weber has produced a line of 74/420/3. Haskins has a plethora of weapons at his disposal, but senior Parris Campbell has emerged as the top pass catching option thus far with a line of 35/501/7.
As a whole, the offense is averaging 364.7 passing yards, 201 rushing yards, and 49 points per game. The defense has been solid but unspectacular, holding opponents to averages of 222.2 passing yards, 143 rushing yards, and 20 points per game. While opponents are moving the ball against the Buckeyes, the unit has produced a whopping 22 sacks and generated 10 turnovers. Ohio State has a date with Purdue next week before closing out the month with a bye.
Ohio State has absolutely dominated the recent series between the two programs, with a perfect mark of 10-0 over the past decade. The Buckeyes are 6-4 against the spread over that time span, while the Over has been the correct call in four of those contests. Last year, Ohio State was a 28-14 victor in a game in which it was favored by 23.5 points.
There’s no question that Ohio State is the better team, and there is little doubt that the club will win outright barring anything incredibly unforeseen. However, covering a hefty 29.5-point spread is another matter entirely. While the Buckeyes absolutely have the talent to blow Minnesota out, just half of their victories on the season can be considered of the dominant variety. Even visiting Indiana was able to keep it respectable last week, as the 27-point underdogs held the final margin to 49-26 in favor of Ohio State.
We’re going to look for Minnesota to pull a similar trick this week. Ohio State will win handily, but we’ll take Minnesota plus the points.