Cardale Jones shaky, but Buckeyes fend off Minnesota to improve to 9-0
Final: No. 3 Ohio State 28, Minnesota 14
Key play: Cardale Jones scrambles for first down on 3rd and 18
It was yet another horrific start for the Ohio State quarterback. But when the Buckeyes were still in search of their first touchdown, Jones stepped up and delivered a massive early play to avoid another three-and-out. That play opened up the Minnesota defense. It resulted in a bomb to Jalin Marshall and eventually a touchdown score by Ezekiel Elliott. Jones hadn’t done much of anything with his arm and for the first time in a while, he got himself going with his legs.
Telling stat: Ohio State out-rushes Minnesota 189-33
This was reflective of the job that the Buckeyes did at the line scrimmage. It was a two-score game, but Ohio State completely controlled the line of scrimmage in this one. Minnesota was held to just over one yard per carry dealing with Raekwon McMillan and Joshua Perry all night. Ezekiel Elliott, on the other hand, was steady as usual. The Heisman Trophy candidate ripped off yet another 100-yard game and kept the Buckeyes moving when Jones struggled. It was just another ho-hum 100-yard game for Elliott, but there’s nothing ho-hum about 14 straight 100-yard games.
-Braxton Miller left with a head injury
Buckeye fans took a collective gasp when they saw Miller’s head hit the turf in the fourth quarter. He laid on the field in a bit of a daze but came out of the game under his own power. According to Urban Meyer, Miller is fine but it was still a reminder that Miller is exposed with the style he plays the game. Ohio State fans have seen Miller on the sidelines far too often in recent memory, and with the exception of an injury to Elliott or Joey Bosa that was the last thing they wanted to see. Hopefully Miller doesn’t experience any setbacks during the week.
-Mitch Leidner looked awfully good
Against the nation’s second best pass defense, Leidner did all he could to lift the Gophers to a stunner. He nearly eclipsed 300 yards for the third straight game. He and K.J. Maye were in a groove all night, especially on a 57-yard gainer that turned it into a ballgame down the stretch. Noticeable was the fact that Leidner got the ball to Maye and Brandon Lingen in space. If there was a knock on the Minnesota passing game — there was plenty a few weeks ago — it was that Gopher receivers never had any room to operate. They only resulted in two scores, but with the exception of his awful interception, that was about as good of a performance as you could’ve asked for from Leidner.
What it means: J.T. Barrett is still the starter, Tracy Claeys might’ve earned the job
Who knows what it would’ve taken from Jones to earn his job back. We’ll never find out because his 12-of-22 effort wasn’t it. Jones did look as good as he has all year running the ball, but it was clear that the offense took a step back without Barrett. For Minnesota, Claeys came out earlier in the week and said that he was hoping that the Gophers would make a decision on his interim tag within the next couple weeks. Going toe-to-toe with Michigan and Ohio State should be more than enough to show administration that he’s worthy of the job. Claeys shouldn’t have to show a whole lot more than that.