Football Hayes & Cannon

Three Things To Watch For From Minnesota

Ohio State football quarterback Dwayne Haskins Penn State

Six wins and zero losses, at the beginning of the second half of the 2018 season [sniffle..sniffle. Sorry about that. Just thinking about the college football season being halfway done is always emotional for me…], and Ohio State is in the driver’s seat for The B1G’s East Division. Next up, the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Minnesota has not played Ohio State since 2015. That was the infamous 28-14 game with Cardale Jones having to start due to J.T. Barrett’s suspension for a DUI. Gopher head coach P.J. Fleck will make his first return to Ohio Stadium since 2015. He brought his Western Michigan Broncos to Ohio State, where the Buckeyes won, 38-12.

Minnesota began the season 3-0 in their non-conference portion of the schedule, defeating New Mexico State, Fresno State, and Miami University. The Golden Gophers’ fortunes have not fared well once B1G conference play began, losing at Maryland (42-13) and to Iowa (48-31).

With Ohio State a strong favorite (-29.5), what are some strategies the Golden Gophers might try in their upset bid against the Buckeyes?

Unleash Carter Coughlin On Passing Downs

Coughlin is a Minnesota native who decided to stay home for the Golden Gophers, spurning a scholarship offer from Ohio State. Urban Meyer made a point of praising Coughlin in his October 8th press conference, stating, “They’re not a big pressure team, but they’ve got a great pass rusher No. 45. Excellent player.” No matter how or where Minnesota lines up Coughlin, keep an eye on how the Buckeyes handle him.

Minnesota’s Run Defense

On our latest Silver Bullets Podcast, Michael Citro (@Mike36fan) and I talked about Ohio State’s running game, and the inconsistencies of it that have challenged the Buckeyes so far this season. P.J. Fleck seems to be following the game plan of Ohio State’s previous 2018 opponents, emphasizing the importance of stopping the run. Will the Buckeyes be able to establish the ground game, as previous Ohio State teams under Urban Meyer have done?

Minnesota’s Receivers vs. Ohio State’s Secondary

Ohio State’s secondary has been susceptible to quick slants and big plays all season. Minnesota is starting a true freshman walk-on quarterback in Zack Annexstad, who has thrown 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions this year. While Ohio State has the depth in the secondary to handle Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman, it will bear watching to see how the Buckeyes defend them.