The last time Ohio State went on the road, they were on the receiving end of some corporal punishment at the hands of Wisconsin. Still smarting from that loss and coming off an easy win against Purdue, the Buckeyes cristened their first visit to TCF Bank Stadium with a 52-10 beatdown of the Golden Gophers.
A less than capacity crowd saw Ohio State roll up over 500 yards of offense with Boom Herron finally breaking the 100 yard barrier in the process. All told, Herron toted the rock 17 times for 114 yards, all of which came before halftime. Supplementing the running game was Terrelle Pryor’s efficient day that saw him complete 18 of his 22 passes for 222 yards, two touchdowns against one awful interception. Devier Posey was the main beneficiary of Pryor by hauling in six passes for 115 yards a touchdown.
Things got started quickly for Ohio State when Jordan Hall took the opening kick through a gigantic hole up the far sideline 34 yards and into Gopher territory. From there, Pryor and Herron went work laying the foundation of an attack that would rely heavily on running the ball. Herron’s number was called five times in the drive which helped the team methodically march down to the goal line. After being stoned a few times, Pryor finally punched through on a third down quarterback sneak to send Ohio State ahead 7-0.
Minnesota’s fire wasn’t to be doused this quickly, though. Perhaps bouyed by interim coach Jeff Horton’s words to play like there’s "no speed limits”, the Gopher’s promptly tested our corners and safeties and the early returns were not good for Buckeye fans. Jermale Hines got beat by back up QB MarQueis Gary on skinny out and up for 35 yards. Following that, Ohrian Johnson was no where to be found on a 32 yard seam route to little used tight end Tiree Eure for 32 yards. DeLeon Eskridge punched it in on the very next play to cap a 4 play, 74 yard drive that took less than two minutes. Not the kind of start this banged up defense wanted to have.
Fortunately, the Ohio State offense wasn’t about to slow down. In fact, they were just warming up at this point. After a holding penalty spotted the ball at the 8 yards line, the Buckeyes embarked on a massive 13 play drive that took over 7 minutes off the clock. Herron again was the workhorse getting seven carries and ripping off chunks of yards. At no time did Ohio State seem in a hurry but rather content to take what the Minnesota defense gave them - which was a look that pressed corners and sent extra blockers at the point. It was clear the Ohio State staff felt they could be successful with garden variety plays working behind Power running sets and simple crossing routes in a vacant middle of the field. Saine eventually scored on bootleg run/pass option play from Pryor that saw Brandon make a nice sliding scoop catch on an underthrown ball.
Down 14-7, Minnesota, led by eight year starter Adam Weber, went on the march again. Ultimately, the Silver Bullets finally started to find some footing and held to force a field goal attempt which bounced off the left upright and back into the field of play. The Buckeyes next drive stalled on the doorstep of another touchdown. Devin Barclay’s kick made it 17-7. And that’s when things started to ramp up and get a little more interesting.
The special teams unit flexed their muscle shortly thereafter with Jordan Hall jitterbugging his way 70 yards. Unfortunately, he couldn’t seal the deal by getting to the endzone as he was knocked out at the 2 yardline. With the offense looking to make a quick strike, Pryor dodge some pressure and flung a late pass to Zach Boren who was initially open. However, the window of opporunity was gone and the Gopher defense stepped in front to make a simple interception and erase the momentum gained from Hall’s punt return.
The craziness wasn’t to end there. Leading by 17-7 with 4:54 in the half, Ohio State would use the next four minutes to score two touchdowns and have the ball back to finish the half. Herron, once again, got the drive going by ripping off 25 and 16 yard scampers. He peeled off a couple more nice runs before jaunting 10 yards into the endzone to push the lead to 24-7. The Buckeye defense forced a quick three and out and enusing punt was shanked sideways giving Pryor and gang great field position. Two plays later, Pryor noticed single coverage on Posey and wisely took advantage by connecting on a 38 yard touchdown pass that bumped the lead to 31-7 at the break.
At this point in the contest, announcers Mike Patrick and Craig James were scrambling for filler topics to keep the casual fan’s interest. If you could get past that and Patrick’s 1994 wardrobe complete with canary yellow vest, you would have seen a fairly quiet third quarter. Minnesota got on the board with a FG off their opening drive of the 2nd half and Ohio State countered later with a blocked punt by Jonathan Newsome which was then recovered in the endzone for a touchdown by Zach Domicone.
Somewhat suprisingly, the Buckeye defense really started to make their mark at this point with several quarterback pressures and a few sacks. One such play that stands out was a delayed corner blitz by Chimdi Chekwa that saw him crunch Weber and force the fumble. John Simon executed a perfect ‘scoop and go’ racing untouched 30 yards to make the score 52-10 after the Barclay extra point. Weber would play the rest of the game was a large bruise on this throwing arm as a result of Chekwa’s hit. Overall, the defense did a nice job after a slow start particularly taking away WR Da’Jon McKnight who only caught one ball for 36 yards despite being Minnesota’s leading receiver.
- Pryor moves to 27-4 as a starting quarterback and became the third Buckeye to surpass 7000 total yards
- Shugarts really leans heavily on his down hand, thereby tipping the running play.
- Last time Minnesota beat Ohio State was in 2000 led by the infamous Ron Johnson
- Why do college teams continue to use the horrific spread punt formation? The coverage benefit is negated in a major way by the increased risk of blocked punts.
- Zoom started the second half as Boom was done for the night after the first half.
- Injuries continue to be a concern with both Rolle and Torrence hobbling off. Both returned fortunately. Later in the game, Travis Howard was caught wincing and limping multiple times.
- Justin Boren was quietly very good at first blush.
- Seven different players scored a touchdown
- Devier Posey: now that’s more like it. Way to catch the ball young man.