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One of the most productive days for the Ohio State offense the entire season, the filleting of the Golden Gopher defense was as close to an "A+" as you can get without being one. Terrelle Pryor's one mistake, an interception in the corner of the endzone, marred the offensive performance, but the rest of his day was deadly efficient. Going 18/22 (82%) with two touchdown passes and one touchdown run, Pryor made quick decisions and spread the ball around against the porous Gopher defense. It's hard to judge a quarterback when he is playing such an awful defense, but Pryor did everything he needed to for Ohio State to take care of business.
And once again, Boom Herron had a great day rushing the ball, achieving the first 100 yard game of his career. On 17 carries, Herron gained 114 yards and a touchdown before he was pulled from the game shortly after halftime. Paving the way, the Buckeye offensive line absolutely bullied the overmatched Gopher front seven. Ohio State had little trouble running or passing at will because of this domination of the line of scrimmage.
DeVier Posey led the receivers with 115 yards and a touchdown on only six catches, with Dane Sanzenbacher catching five passes for 57 yards. Those two accounted for the vast majority of the passing yards, although a host of other players had a handful of receptions.
While Ohio State did hold the Minnesota offense to 232 yards on 51 plays (4.54 yards per play), they experienced a little bit of struggle on the first Golden Gopher drive, giving up consecutive pass plays of 30 yards or more. It was Minnesota's sole touchdown, but it was enough to prevent an "A+" grade for Ohio State's defense. Defensive tackle Johnny Simon had a special moment when he returned an Adam Weber fumble for a touchdown, and middle linebacker Brian Rolle made one of the most spectacular defensive plays I've ever seen. Blitzing Weber's strongside, Rolle hit the Gopher quarterback, caused a fumble, and then recovered the fumble himself, all in the span of three seconds.
Anyone who questions Rolle's importance to the Buckeyes' defensive success need only look at the effect his absence had. Minnesota's only touchdown of the game came on a drive where Rolle was injured, and after his return, Minnesota struggled to move the ball in any direction other than backwards.
Special Teams: A
Special Teams built on their positive performance against Purdue, and much of that is attributable to punt returner Jordan Hall. His 70 yard return was a work of art, and it was largely a self-made one. Minnesota's coverage unit lost backside lane discipline, and Jordan Hall squeaked through the initial Gopher surge to open field, where he galloped all the way to the two yard line before being pushed out of bounds. Ohio State's coverage units also did their job well on the numerous opportunities Minnesota had for returns.
The only negative for special teams was kicker Devin Barclay's missed chip shot in the 3rd quarter, which may have been a product of the rough elements.
Player of the Game: Brian Rolle. The senior middle linebacker not only had the play of the day with his sack, fumble, recovery drill late in the game, but his absence also proved to be the catalyst for Minnesota's best offensive drive of the day. B-Rolle has been an indispensable part of Ohio State's success the past two seasons, and his continued excellence will be necessary over the next four weeks, as the Bucks look to defeat Penn State, Iowa, and Michigan to win their 6th straight Big Ten title.
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - Terrelle Pryor threw for two scores and rushed for another touchdown, as 10th-ranked Ohio State blew out Minnesota, 52-10, in the Buckeyes' eighth straight victory over the Golden Gophers.
Pryor completed 18-of-22 passes for 222 yards and was picked off once. Dan Herron carried the ball 17 times for a career-high 114 yards with a TD for the Buckeyes (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten), who have beaten Minnesota in 24 of the last 25 meetings. DeVier Posey caught six passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.
"I think the offense played great," Pryor said. "We needed the good start from an offensive perspective because we have not played very well on the road. We really needed this game to start early."
Adam Weber connected on 9-of-20 passes for 162 yards and was intercepted once for Minnesota (1-8, 0-5), which lost its eighth in a row.
"Obviously Ohio State was the dominating football team tonight," Minnesota interim head coach Jeff Horton said. "They beat us in all three phases of the football game."
Pryor scored on a one-yard run to cap the first drive of the game, but DeLeon Eskridge punched in a seven-yard rush to tie the game. Minnesota moved 74 yards on just four plays during its opening possession.
Pryor hit Brandon Saine with a three-yard TD pass later in the opening quarter and Eric Ellestad missed a 35-yard field goal early in the second for the Golden Gophers.
Devin Barclay's 23-yard field goal extended the lead to 17-7 with 8:24 left in the half. The Buckeyes drove into field goal range thanks to Pryor's 39-yard connection to Dane Sanzenbacher.
Jordan Hall returned a Minnesota punt 70 yards to the two later in the second, but Pryor was picked off on the ensuing play.
Despite OSU's misfortune, the Buckeyes were able to widen the gap to 24-7 on Herron's 10-yard run with 1:43 left in the half.
Pryor's 38-yard TD pass to Posey came with 24 seconds left in the second quarter.
Ellestad split the uprights from 33 yards out early in the third.
Barclay missed from 21 yards away, but OSU capitalized on a blocked punt from Dan Orseske that Zach Domicone recovered in the end zone for a 38-10 lead with 4:10 remaining in the third.
Hall scored on a 16-yard run early in the fourth and OSU came up with a defensive score two plays later. Weber fumbled after being sacked and John Simon rumbled 30 yards with the return to the end zone.
The Buckeyes lead the overall series by a 43-7 count. Minnesota's last victory over Ohio State came back in 2000. The Gophers' last win against OSU in Minneapolis was a 35-31 victory against the 18th-ranked Buckeyes on Nov. 7, 1981, in the next-to-the-last game played at Memorial Stadium...Weber made his 47th consecutive start, the longest such streak in the nation for a signal- caller...Pryor completed 10 consecutive passes in the game, the third time he has completed 10 or more in a row this season. He had 11 against Indiana and a school-record 16 against Eastern Michigan...Pryor threw the 49th and 50th TD passes of his career, tying him with Art Schlichter for fourth on Ohio State's all-time list.
Ohio State had a quiet third quarter offensively, but still added to their cushion in Minnesota when Dan Orseske blocked a Gophers’ punt and Zach Domicone recovered for a touchdown as the Buckeyes increased their lead to 38-10 entering the final period.
In an odd statistical anomaly, OSU has 400 yards after three period — exactly twice as many yards as Minnesota’s 200.
Terrelle Pryor has 221 passing yards to this point, while Dan Herron has rushed for 114.
After a tight first quarter wherein Ohio State led only 14-7 after one, a 17-point second quarter has the Buckeyes well on their way to another win as the good guys lead at the intermission 31-7.
Terrelle Pryor has tossed two TD passes and run for another score to compliment a Dan Herron touchdown run for the Buckeyes, who have already run up 316 yards of offense against the Golden Gophers. Pryor has gone 13-15 for 170 yards, and Herron has 104 on the ground in a well-balanced OSU attack.
A Terrelle Pryor touchdown run early and a Pryor TD pass to Brandon Saine late — sandwiched around a DeLeon Eskridge touchdown run for Minnesota — has Ohio State ahead of the Golden Gophers 14-7 at the end of one quarter tonight in Minneapolis.
OSU is dominating offensively with 10 first downs and 139 yards in the first quarter as the Buckeyes try to take advantage of Michigan State’s loss earlier today in Iowa.
1. Another Road Test. In Ohio State’s previous two road games the team has struggled early, only leading Illinois 14-10 and falling behind Wisconsin 21-3 by halftime. Both of these opponents are better than the Golden Gophers, granted, but Ohio State still must put together a better showing on the road than they have so far this season. Even though the game is an 8:00 primetime event, the atmosphere should be relatively tepid with Minnesota’s struggles this season. The atmosphere at TCF Bank Stadium should not affect the Buckeyes’ performance as it did at Camp Randall two weekends ago.
2. Offensive Style. The Buckeye structure as a multiple offense is semi-malleable. It is not, like LSU’s, a grab bag of different schemes on a given week, but it does have significant variability between formations and quarterback positioning. Against Wisconsin, Ohio State opened the game using shotgun spread formations, but it was remarkably ineffective against the Badger defense. In the second half, they adjusted by using a downhill running attack out of the Pistol formation along with more under center plays. A week later, against Purdue, Ohio State resembled the latter much more than the former. It is Along the Olentangy’s opinion that the more pro-style offense fits the Buckeyes’ personnel better, and it will be interesting to see if the coaches agree on Saturday.
3. Desperation in Minnesota. As previously noted, Minnesota is not good. They don’t do anything especially well on offense, and their defense struggles with such basic tasks as tackling. But desperation can be a powerful motivator, and if the Golden Gophers are not at the desperation point yet, they never will be. Interim head coach, and offensive coordinator, Jeff Horton is advertising for his next employer, while the players are hoping to salvage the season with an upset over the scourge of the Big Ten, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Minnesota may lack the talent to pull off the upset, but don’t be surprised if you see a number of trick plays and 4th down conversion attempts out of the rodents. They have nothing else to play for at this point.
4. Ohio State’s depth. Should the game get out of hand, the Buckeyes face an interesting conundrum that is not often presented to collegiate superprograms. After losing another scholarship defensive back to injury (Corey Brown – out for season), the patchwork secondary now has little talented, experienced depth behind the starters. Only career backups (Aaron Gant, Nate Oliver) and inexperienced redshirt freshmen (Dominic Clarke, Jamie Wood) shore up the secondary at key spots. Does Ohio State, with a limited travel roster of 65, substitute freely on the road? Or do they keep the starters in longer than usual because of these limitations?
5. Michigan State-Iowa. This game may not directly affect the Buckeyes’ performance against Minnesota, but it will certainly have massive implications for the Big Ten title race, and thus, the Buckeyes post-season bowl destination. If Iowa upsets the Spartans, Ohio State will then be in a three-way tie for first place in the Big Ten standings with the Spartans and Wisconsin. A Michigan State victory will greatly diminish Ohio State’s chances of repeating as Big Ten champion for the 6th straight season. Of course, none of this matters if Ohio State does not take care of business in Minneapolis tomorrow evening.
Two teams headed in opposite directions meet at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Saturday night, as the 10th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes come calling on the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Ohio State is fresh off a 49-0 shellacking of Purdue, that triumph coming on the heels on the team's lone setback of the season, a 31-18 loss at Wisconsin. As a result, the Buckeyes are 7-1 on the year and 3-1 in the Big Ten. They trail undefeated Michigan State (8-0, 4-0), and are currently one of four teams with only one conference loss.
Following this clash, OSU will face three formidable opponents to close the regular season, as home games with Penn State and Michigan sandwich a road bout at Iowa.
As for Minnesota, it lost its seventh straight game last weekend, falling in a 33-21 final at home to Penn State. It was the Golden Gophers' first game since head coach Tim Brewster was fired, and Jeff Horton has been given the job on an interim basis.
The Gophers knocked off Middle Tennessee in the season opener, 24-17, but have dropped every game since, although two of them (South Dakota and Northwestern) were decided by a combined four points.
Ohio State owns a commanding 42-7 lead in the all-time series with Minnesota, and the Buckeyes have won the last seven meetings and 23 of the last 24 overall. The Gophers' lone win during that stretch was back in 2000.
The Buckeyes scored early and often in their recent rout of Purdue, piling up 415 yards of total offense and 42 points -- all before halftime. QB Terrelle Pryor hit the mark on 16-of-22 passes for 270 yards, with three TDs and two INTs, hitting WRs Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey a combined eight times for 170 yards and two scores. Dan Herron led the OSU ground attack with 74 yards and two TDs.
Coach Jim Tressel liked what he saw from his team following the loss to Wisconsin, "It shows our kids are good leaders and they weren't going to let the younger kids be too disappointed, that we didn't make some of the errors that we'd made a week ago and our opponent didn't make some of the plays that they'd made a week ago, and we got ahead of them."
Ohio State owns both the Big Ten's top scoring offense (40.8 ppg) and defense (14.0 ppg), and the offense is led by Pryor, who has completed 66 percent of his passes for 221.9 ypg with 18 TDs and only six INTs. Pryor can also wreak havoc with his legs, ranking second on the team in rushing (408 yards) and he has scored three times. Herron has 520 yards and 11 TDs on the ground, while Sanzenbacher and Posey both have at least 34 catches and a combined 1,077 yards and 12 TDs.
The Buckeye defense, which was without the services of leading tackler Ross Homan (foot injury) last week, limited the Boilermakers to nine first downs, 118 total yards (30 rushing, 88 passing), and came away with three turnovers. It was another dominant effort from an Ohio State defensive unit that has been impressive in stopping both modes of attack this year.
The Buckeyes are currently ranked first in the conference in rushing defense (85.8 ypg) and passing defense (148.8 ypg) -- the latter of which has also yielded a league-low four passing scores. The Buckeyes have also proven to be an opportunistic bunch, ranking third in the nation in turnover margin (+1.38), as well as total defense (234.5 ypg).
Minnesota QB Adam Weber threw for 299 yards and three TDs, all of which went to WR Da'Jon McKnight, who finished with eight catches for 103 yards in last week's 12-point home loss to Penn State. MarQuis Gray and Duane Bennett combined for 12 grabs and 154 yards, while RB DeLeon Eskridge carried the ball 23 times for 111 yards. Overall, the Gophers gained 433 yards to the Nittany Lions' 351, and picked up 26 first downs to 17 for the visitors. As a result of his solid outing, Weber became just the fifth signal-caller in Big Ten history to pass for 10,000 yards (10,199).
"I thought our kids played with a lot of passion and energy. It has been a wild week with a full load of emotions for the players and the coaches. I thought they came out today with some great passion and energy and played as hard as they could," coach Horton said. "There were a few plays in there that got away from us, but I could not be more proud of the way they represented the university. We want to win. That is the bottom line, and we have to do everything in our power to do that, but I really thought they responded to a tough week."
Weber has thrown for just shy of 2,000 yards this season, with 17 TDs and seven INTs. McKnight, Gray and Eric Lair all have at least 29 catches, with McKnight landing in the end zone nine times. Eskridge and Bennett have each run for 444 yards and scored two TDs apiece.
The Golden Gophers are last in the Big Ten in scoring defense (31.9 ppg), and they have had a particularly tough time defending the run (194.1 ypg). In fact, 19 of the 35 TDs surrendered by the team have come on the ground. Minnesota also ranks 11th in the conference in pass efficiency defense (162.2), and has a league-low three sacks to its credit.
Gary Tinsley is the team's top performer on defense, logging 63 stops to this point -- 16 more than his closest teammate -- and his 6.5 TFLs also pace the club.
Ohio State appears as if it will use the loss to Wisconsin as motivation for the rest of the season. Whether that will be enough to get the Buckeyes yet another Big Ten title and a shot at the BCS National Championship Game remains to be seen. What is certain is that there is little to no chance OSU loses this game against an opponent that is having a difficult time remembering what it's like to win.
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