Before focusing upon the Ohio State @ Minnesota game scheduled for 12pm EST on ABC, I want to congratulate Coach Urban Meyer, the Ohio State coaching staff, and most especially, the 2014 Buckeyes on their victory over Michigan State. Like many others, I predicted that Ohio State would lose. Regardless of whether at home or at work, I always strive to admit my mistakes, and I am doing so now. I did the same on the Men of the Scarlet and Gray podcast earlier this week, but I wanted to do it in writing as well. Congratulations, Buckeyes.
With the victory over Michigan State, Ohio State has climbed back up the College Football Playoff rankings, presently ranked eighth. Many fans are wondering if Ohio State will be able to impress enough in the remaining regular season games to climb up to at least fourth to earn a spot at a possible national championship. My response is comparable to that of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ~ Relax. There are plenty of games to be played, and the biggest mistake Ohio State can do is not concentrate on what is within their control. Minnesota is 7-2, and ranked twenty-fifth. Focus on defeating the Golden Gophers, and let everyone else play their games out.
The weather will be cold with possible snow, as the present weekend forecast for Minneapolis is for a high of 28 degrees. As Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill said, "I don't see it being a factor. ... That's the way it is in the Midwest so you deal with it".
Here are three areas I will be focused upon when the Buckeyes and Golden Gophers meet up for the first time since the 2010 season...
1. Minnesota's Rushing Offense versus Ohio State's Defense - Minnesota boasts a very large offensive line that helps pave the way to averaging 224 yards on the ground per game. Ohio State's defense has improved, and had their positive moments last week versus Michigan State, but how will they do against talented Minnesota running back David Cobb? For those old-school purists out there who long for traditional B1G football, this is the place to see how it will all shake out.
2. Ohio State's Rushing Offense versus Minnesota's Defense - Ezekiel Elliott has emerged as one of the best running backs in the B1G. The Ohio State offensive line, which was maligned at the onset of the 2014 season, has truly come together over the last several weeks. Will Ohio State be able to run the ball against a Minnesota defense that will probably stack the box?
3. Will Jalin Marshall Have A Larger Role In The Offense? - The news that Dontre Wilson sustained a broken bone during the Michigan State victory has led to speculation that Jalin Marshall will take on even more responsibilities within the Ohio State offense. Look for Marshall to be on kickoffs, punt returns, possible Wildcat quarterback formations, as well as the traditional H-Back plays that Coach Meyer has usually involved Marshall with this season.
Prediction: While I have concerns that the Ohio State players may come out somewhat sluggish after such an emotional victory high against Michigan State, I believe the superior Ohio State speed will help spark the Buckeyes to a lead that will allow the Buckeyes to leave Minneapolis with the victory. David Cobb will have a good game, as well Minnesota TE Maxx Williams, but the Ohio State defense will have enough to harass Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner throughout the game. I see Ohio State getting a lead, and playing ball control into the second half. I am calling it Ohio State 35, Minnesota 21.