Minnesota vs Ohio State: Gophers offense vs. Ohio State defense: Minnesota’s game plan to throw deep against Iowa had some success in the 48-31 loss, and that strategy likely also goes for how to attack third-ranked Ohio State, which ranks 117th in the nation in allowing 13 pass plays of 20-plus yards.
Gophers true freshman tackle Daniel Faalele will make first career start — at the Horseshoe, no less — and will face DE Chase Young, who has four sacks and four quarterback hurries this season. Star DE Nick Bosa is out with a core muscle injury. Minnesota’s trio of receivers — Tyler Johnson, Rashod Bateman and Chris Autman-Bell — showed up together for the first time in Big Ten play against Iowa. Bateman had his first two-touchdown game vs. Hawkeyes. A surefire way to lose to the Buckeyes is for QB Zack Annexstad to throw three interceptions like he did against the Hawkeyes. Buckeyes have four interceptions, six fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns in six games. RBs Mohamed Ibrahim and Bryce Williams combined to rush for five yards per carry against the Hawkeyes. The Buckeyes defense is ninth in the nation with 50 tackles for lost yards. EDGE: Ohio State
Gophers defense vs. Ohio State offense: Going back to last season, Minnesota has allowed at least 31 points in four consecutive Big Ten games. The Buckeyes average a staggering 49 points per game, fifth most in the nation. If the U gives up 31-plus points Saturday, this five-game points-allowed skid will be the worst since Jim Wacker’s 1995 Gophers team allowed 34 or more points in six straight games. Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins has taken Big Ten by storm, including 455 passing yards in the 49-26 in over Indiana, which was three yards short of Ohio State’s 37-year-old record.
Haskins has completed 72 percent of his passes and is on pace for 50 touchdowns throws. He is only Big Ten player ever to throw for five or more TDs in three games in a season, according to the Big Ten Network. The Gophers allowed Iowa to convert on 57 percent of third and fourth downs last week, which was 20 points above their season average. WR Paris Campbell leads Buckeyes with 35 receptions, 501 yards and seven touchdowns. RBs Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins each have more than 420 rushing yards. DE Carter Coughlin’s five sacks are the only ones registered by U’s defensive line. EDGE: Ohio State
Special teams: The Gophers allowed a 49-yard kick return last week, with Ohio State’s Johnnie Dixon’s season long at 38. Minnesota K Emmit Carpenter now 8 for 9 on field goals this season, including 49-yarder vs. Iowa. Ohio State K Sean Nuernberg is 3 for 5 on FGs. P Drue Christian has Ohio State leading league in net punting at 43.8 yards. EDGE: Ohio State
The Gophers have spent this week watching footage of many recent college football upsets, but won’t be able to get absolutely everything to break their way to remake Minnesota’s stunning 29-17 victory over No. 6 Buckeyes from 2000. Haskins’ hot streak will mean U drops 11th straight in this series. Ohio State, 55-24