The Other Side: Minnesota

Ohio State hasn't played Minnesota in the Jerry Kill era. So what should Buckeye fans expect out of the 7-2 Golden Gophers? We checked in with Scout's Minnesota site to find out.

Ohio State hasn't faced off against Minnesota since 2010, so what should Buckeye fans expect from the Golden Gophers? We talked to Scout's Brice Marich for his take on the U, which enters at 7-2 and tied for the Big Ten West Division lead at 4-1 in conference play.

1. What makes the Minnesota rushing attack so effective?
The Gophers have established themselves to be a very physical and tough team especially on the offensive side of the ball. Minnesota ranks No. 27 in the nation for rushing yards a game by averaging 224 yards. Senior running back David Cobb is a big reason why the Golden Gophers have been so successful on the ground. The 5-11, 229-pound tailback already surpassed his rushing yard total and his rushing touchdowns from last season by churning out 1,205 yards and scoring eight times this year. The offensive line is a veteran group that has manhandled smaller defenses, and it helps the big uglies up front average a whopping 308 pounds. All that beef and a north-south back that has good vision and cutback ability makes this rushing attack very effective.

2. Who is someone most OSU fans probably wouldn't know they should be aware of Saturday?
A position that gets overlooked by many is the punter, but junior punter Peter Mortell has been a weapon for the Gophers. He is averaging 45 yards per punt so far this season and with his longest being 61 yards. If Minnesota struggles on offense, it will look to flip the field on Buckeyes, so Mortell could be a major key in this game.

3. What is the strength of the Minnesota defense?
The secondary has been the strength for this defense all season. Defensive backs Cedric Thompson and Eric Murray are two potential NFL draft prospects. The leadership on the back end and their physical play has made their presence felt. This stout defense is averaging only giving up 21 points per game, which ranks 23rd in the nation. Definitely the Gophers have had lapses this season but are starting to turn the corner.

4. So... what the heck happened at Illinois, and is it fair to just chalk that up as a bad day?
That game had trap game written all over it and ended up being one. The Gophers fell behind 14-0 early on and had to climb their way back in the game behind the hard running of Cobb and the defense stiffening up in the second half. What hurt is that because they fell behind and were behind for most the game, they had to attack Illinois through the air, which is not their strength. Quarterback Mitch Leidner was 12-30 for 240 yards with a touchdown and interception. The Gophers are not comfortable throwing the ball that many times and they couldn’t control the clock and run the ball. The other main issue was how Minnesota lost the turnover battle, which normally is something it doesn't usually do. That is always a losing formula for Minnesota and ended up coming to fruition on that Saturday.

5. On the other hand, how did things go so well vs. Iowa?
Minnesota was clicking on all cylinders in the Iowa game. Unlike the Illinois game, the Gophers responded to the Hawkeyes striking first by answering with 35 points to end the first half. They kept their put on the gas in the second half because with a lead that big, it wouldn’t have been hard to left off. The front four was creating havoc all day long and the Gophers created three turnovers on the game. They also put up around 300 yards on the ground and consistently got positive yardage on each carry. I mean I also feel Iowa wasn’t having its best game ever and that resulted in a lopsided lost.

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