5 Questions: Ohio State at Minnesota

This week we wonder if the Buckeyes can get off to a better start on the road, if Minnesota will be able to run the ball or make big plays with its talented wide receivers and what the OSU offense will try to do. We also ask if this is the week Dan Herron hits the century mark.

1. Can the Buckeyes shake off their road doldrums?

Ohio State has scored at least 36 points in every home game this season, but the Buckeyes averaged only 21 in their first two road contests.

While the quality of competition - Illinois and Wisconsin - certainly has played a role, the Buckeyes have not been as sharp, particularly on offense.

In completely unfamiliar surroundings against a clearly overmatched foe, there will be challenges to stay focused until the job is finished.

2. Will Minnesota try to overpower Ohio State?

This might have been unimaginable until two weeks ago, but the question bears asking after the Buckeyes did not respond well to Wisconsin's power attack.

Minnesota's installation of a power running game over the past two seasons has not gone swimmingly, but the Gophers' best chance might come with shortening the game and grinding it out.

Like the Badgers, Minnesota likes to go with two tight ends to create an extra gap for the defense to worry about.

"We've done a lot of that this year with Curtis Hughes and Eric Lair playing at the same time," interim head coach Jeff Horton said. "They're kind of interchangeable there. They've mixed in with that formation. We can do different things out of it."

Minnesota relies on two solid but unspectacular backs: juniors Duane Bennett and DeLeon Eskridge.

On the down side, the Gophers may be without injured standout fullback Jon Hoese.

3. Who will win more battles - the Ohio State cornerbacks or Minnesota wide receivers?

Getting the running game rolling could help the Gophers create big-play opportunities down the field with their talented wide receivers.

In junior Da'Jon McKnight and sophomore MarQueis Gray, Minnesota has athletic targets that go 6-3, 209, and 6-4, 238, respectively. Both bring size and the ability to go get the ball when quarterback Adam Weber throws it up for grabs.

"With Da'Jon and MarQueis, both those guys, if you get some one-on-one matchups, Ohio State I know certainly will feel good about who they got lining up, they're mano-a-mano, we're going to beat you one-on-one, hopefully we can get some big plays out of them," Horton said.

Ohio State's veteran corners have been hit or miss this season, shutting down a talented group from Indiana but giving up some crucial plays against Wisconsin and Miami (Fla.).

4. How will the Buckeyes attack?

The basic set up of the Ohio State offense fluctuates more than anyone would expect for a group sixth in the nation in scoring and 20th in total yards.

Some weeks, the Buckeyes emphasize the shotgun and spread sets, then last week they came out running downhill out of the I-formation.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor said Wednesday night he enjoys the former but is fine with how the Buckeyes usually go about their business building a plan around weaknesses they perceive in the opponent.

The latter should not be difficult considering Minnesota enters the game last in the Big Ten in rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and scoring.

5. Will Dan Herron finally record a 100-yard rushing game?

Ohio State's junior tailback has been named the team's offensive player of the week following three of the last four games, but his career-high for a game is still the 97 yards he ran for last season against Iowa.

He had 76 in the first half alone last week against Purdue but played very little after intermission because the game got out of hand.

"Will we let Boom get over a hundred?" Tressel said after the game. "Yeah, we'll let him if he just breaks an 80-yarder, then he doesn't have to let us let him."

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