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.