Neither of these teams had a good weekend, even though one of them didn’t even play. Minnesota gave everything in its Game against Michigan, but it wasn’t enough. Ohio State was in the news for different reasons and will take on the Gophers without their current starting quarterback. Still, the Buckeyes are a -23 point home favorite at betonline.
A week after JT Barrett was named starting quarterback for the Buckeyes, he decided to drive his car while intoxicated. Barrett will be suspended for this Game, but it’s not like they don’t have options at behind him. Cardale Jones is back under center for this Game, a position he had for the first seven Games of the year. But this time around, Barrett won’t be breathing down his neck.
As for the Gophers, they had a shot to upset Michigan last weekend and get a win for now retired Jerry Kill, but they shot themselves in the foot and couldn’t pull it off. Now they have back-to-back road Games against undefeated teams. Can they continue to play with the same kind of emotion? It’s unlikely, especially on the road, which is why this spread is where it’s at.
Minnesota’s best chance will be if Cardale Jones continues to struggle. The Gophers usually stout defense has had its issues in recent weeks, giving up 48 points to Nebraska and 29 to a mediocre Michigan offense. Still, Jones only has 7 TDs and 5 INTs on the year, and isn’t the same type of runner as Barrett. The Gophers will hope to stop Ezekiel Elliott (1,130 yards, 13 TDs), but that may be too tall of a task. OSU probably won’t put up 49 points like it did against Rutgers the week before, but they should have success on the ground.
On the other end, the Buckeyes are starting to come around having allowed 17 total points in the last two Games. This Minnesota offense isn’t scaring anyone either. Quarterback Mitch Leidner has throw for 300 yards in two straight Games, which doesn’t sound right, but that still hasn’t mattered as the offense has only mustered 51 total points in those Games. Leidner will once again need a big Game for the Gophers to stand a chance. Minnesota actually found room on the ground against Michigan, but it would be a surprise if they did the same in this one on the road. Running back Rodney Smith has looked better though and has 541 yards on the year, but only one touchdown.
The Golden Gophers fought in this Game last year and covered in a 31-24 home loss. However, this one is in Columbus, and Minnesota has been far from consistent on the road. Not to say Ohio State is that much better at home, but the Buckeyes have at least covered two straight Games now. Minnesota’s best chance at covering will be if Cardale Jones repeats his previous performances and turns it over a couple times.
The over has hit five straight times for the Buckeyes following a bye week and that’s about the only relevant trend heading into this Game. Prior to last year’s meeting, Ohio State won and covered the previous two Games, both with large spreads.
Our Pick – Expect last weeks loss to Michigan to have a hangover affect on the Gophers. The Buckeyes are the better team on both sides of the ball here and should have no problem extending a margin, even without Barrett. We have this Game right around the posted number though, so tread lighty. Ohio State -23