Ohio State left little doubt in its 37-3 blowout of Minnesota at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, and Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck acknowledged his team’s shortcomings against the Buckeyes following the game.
As the Golden Gophers were held to just 159 yards of total offense, while the Buckeyes racked up 434 yards of their own en route to the dominant Senior Day win, Fleck was rightfully upset with his team’s play on Saturday. However, the seventh-year skipper also took some blame for Minnesota’s struggles in the Shoe.
“First of all congratulations to Ohio State. We've played some really good football teams this year and they're right up there. We were outmatched and outcoached. You can go on and on through with everything. Again I'm going to keep saying as long as I'm the head football coach, it all starts with me and ends with me.”– P.J. Fleck
Fleck was pleased with the way his team played in the opening half, taking just a 13-0 deficit into the locker room with some hope that it may be able to get back into the contest. However, the Buckeyes quickly stomped out that hope by scoring 14 points in the first 67 seconds of the second half to extend their lead to 27-0 with 13:53 to play in the third quarter.
"I'm not saying we were in control of the game by any means, but it's 13-0 at halftime. We controlled the field position of where we wanted them to go. We fixed some things that we felt we could do better. But the next thing you know, it's a minute seven seconds later and its 14 points on top of what they just had and that was it."
– P.J. Fleck
Although the Ohio State offense registered a solid day overall, Minnesota largely held Heisman Trophy candidate Marvin Harrison Jr. in check, as the Philadelphia native mustered just 30 yards and a touchdown on three catches.
Despite Harrison’s relatively quiet night, Fleck acknowledged the difficulties of defending Ohio State’s wealth of talent at the skill positions.
“You can take one away, it's just pick your poison. Which way you want to go down, and then which one do you want to put, at least do everything you can do to eliminate. But other than that, then they have other guys that can step up and be really good playmakers. That's what a national championship team looks like.”– P.J. Fleck
With the win over Minnesota, Ohio State’s attention now turns to Michigan and The Game — a matchup that will carry both Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff implications.
After the Golden Gophers fell to the Wolverines 52-10 on Oct. 7, Fleck declared Michigan the best team in the Big Ten. On Saturday, Fleck somewhat walked back on his comments and praised both Ohio State and Michigan for their play to this point in the season.
"I think you're splitting hairs. I mean, what color Ferrari would you like, a red one or a white one? Just based on preference, what one do you want to pick in the lot. I think that's why I think next week is going to be a heck of a matchup."– P.J. Fleck