Rapid Reaction: It counts, but Ohio State was less than impressive in win over Minnesota
After Ohio State had that thrilling win over Penn State a few weeks ago, the Buckeyes were considered to be the top contender to Alabama’s national championship hopes.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In the last two weeks, Ohio State has been less than impressive. Saturday’s 30-14 win over Minnesota was the ugliest of the bunch, especially on the defensive end.
The Gophers did nothing special offensively, yet still managed to rack up 128 yards rushing in the first half, their highest total in three weeks. Zack Annexstad was finding his receivers consistently on simple slant routes. Ohio State didn’t give up many points, but P.J. Fleck picked apart the Buckeyes secondary.
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Keep in mind, this is a Minnesota team without its top two running backs, Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith. And it’s a true freshman walk-on quarterback. And in case you forgot, the Gophers were blown out in games against Maryland and Iowa.
It was a simple game plan and Ohio State couldn’t keep up.
Minnesota did have an ex-factor on the offensive line. 6-foot-8, 400-pound offensive lineman Daniel Faalele saw the field in Columbus, and his presence appeared to open up some offensive opportunities for the Gophers. But he’s far from the best lineman the Ohio State defense will see, particularly if it reaches the College Football Playoff.
The Buckeyes offense wasn’t particularly good, either. Dwayne Haskins was harassed my Minnesota’s front line and J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber combined for just 86 yards. Aside from the play under center, there were plenty of inconsistencies on that side of the football.
Ohio State had the better athletes on Saturday. It didn’t have the better game plan. It didn’t have the better effort, either.
This isn’t a new problem for Ohio State, which has struggled with taking inferior opponents seriously. But after the last two weeks, a tight contest with Indiana and major scare from Minnesota, maybe it’s time the Buckeyes treat every opponent like Penn State.
It would be easy to classify Saturday’s performance as a relaxed effort, something that won’t happen again. Urban Meyer can address it, and the Buckeyes will be ready to go a week from now. But it’s been two straight weeks. That has to be concerning.
Yes, Ohio State got the win. But it’s clear the Buckeyes are nowhere near Alabama’s level. At least not right now.