The teeth of their schedule certainly lies ahead, but Ohio State improved to 5-0 after dispatching of Minnesota 30-7 on Sept. 29. The Buckeyes' stingy run defense held the Gophers to 1.6 yards per carry after they entered the game averaging 5.5.
Within one minute, the Buckeyes grabbed momentum for good, when Malcolm Jenkins intercepted a pass at the goal line. Three plays later, Beanie Wells broke free around the left end for a 27-yard game. Minnesota compounded its own problems with a late hit on the play, tacking on 15 more yards and taking the ball to midfield.
On the next play, Brian Robiskie made a spectacular, leaping, twisting grab in the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown. Within four plays and 57 seconds, the Buckeyes' offense covered 98 yards.
"Huge," coach Jim Tressel said of the interception. "All of a sudden, we were 99 yards away, then we score. That was huge."
With Purdue, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan still looming on the schedule, the Buckeyes control their own destiny — at least in the Big Ten. The real tests begin with a road game at Purdue.
GAME BALL GOES TO: WR Brian Robiskie — His leaping, twisting 52-yard TD reception was the highlight of his career. He finished with 99 receiving yards.
KEEP AN EYE ON: FB Tyler Whaley — Ohio State is using three fullbacks this year, including captain Dionte Johnson and former walk-on Trever Robinson. But Whaley's block sealed the corner on Beanie Wells' game-changing 27-yard run. That's why his teammates call him Tank.
LOOKING GOOD: Malcolm Jenkins' interception at the goal line shortly before the half preserved Ohio State's 14-7 lead, then the Bucks made it a 14-point swing by going 98 yards in under a minute to put the game away.
WR Brian Robiskie's leaping, twisting 52-yard touchdown catch was the best of his career and one of the best catches of the year in college football. His ability to go get any pass is what gives QB Todd Boeckman the confidence to keep heaving it deep.
RB Beanie Wells rushed for 117 yards, his fourth consecutive game over 100 yards.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The kicking woes continued, as an extra point was blocked in the first half. The Buckeyes have really struggled in all aspects of the kicking game. At times it's been low snaps, at times it's poor protection and at times it's been poor kicking. It's unusual to see a Jim Tressel team struggle so much with field goals and extra points.
After fumbling woes plagued him last year, Beanie Wells lost his first fumble of the season on his last carry of the game. It's up to Wells to make sure it doesn't become a chronic problem again.
ROSTER REPORT: PK Aaron Pettrey did not travel with the team because of the sore groin that has kept him out all year. Pettrey was expected to handle the kickoffs this year but hasn't been able to shake the injury.
Sophomore LB Ross Homan did make the trip, but didn't play for the second straight week as he continues to fight injuries.
WR Dane Sanzenbacher returned to face the Gophers after he missed the Northwestern game with a concussion. Sanzenbacher caught one pass for four yards.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "A loss in college football ends all your dreams. It's like UFC fighting. Every game is essential if you're trying to work up to the belt. We're trying to get that belt." — Right tackle Kirk Barton, on moving into the top five in the polls.