Buckeye Breakdown: OSU Thumps Gophers

What to take away from a beatdown in every area except the scoreboard? Find out inside as the BuckeyeSports.com puts together its Buckeye Breakdown on what we learned and how No. 8 OSU fared in the 31-24 win vs. No. 25 Minnesota

Ohio State run offense: J.T. Barrett's presence in the success of the running game was even more important than his 189 yards. His ability to run the ball meant the Golden Gophers couldn't cheat on Ezekiel Elliott, who went for 91 yards himself and continues to impress. The fake toss QB counter play was a great addition to the running game, something that should drive opposing defensive coordinators nuts on film and on the field. Barrett's surprising big-play ability was a cherry on the top. Of course we must credit the Ohio State offensive line for another stellar performance against a good front seven from Minnesota. Ohio State narrowly missed having a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game for the eighth time under Urban Meyer. -- Marcus Hartman

Ohio State pass offense: His performance in freezing, snowy conditions won’t be remembered as J.T. Barrett’s best passing day, but can you blame him? The Texas native was (presumably) playing in a snowstorm for the first time in his career, and he handled the adjustment just fine. His final stat line was a winning one, as he completed 15 of 25 passes for 200 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The pick came on a bad decision, but it was one of his only missteps on the day. OSU offensive coordinator Tom Herman called a good game, highlighted by the 22-yard touchdown pass from Barrett to senior wide receiver Evan Spencer that provided the winning tally. -- Ryan Ginn

Ohio State run defense: For the second straight week the Ohio State run defense left something to be desired. The Gophers inexplicably didn’t feed the ball to David Cobb until the final drive of the first quarter, but once they did the Buckeyes struggled to stop him. The Minnesota workhorse pounded the ball five straight times after J.T. Barrett’s interception to get the ball in the end zone, and his touchdown run on that drive saw Joshua Perry and Curtis Grant try to fill the same hole. The problems continued as Cobb raked up 145 yards on 5.4 yards per carry. Making matters worse, Ohio State knew Minnesota wouldn’t be able to pass the ball. The Buckeyes kept the jet sweeps in check but Mitch Leidner gained 56 yards on scrambles or designed runs. The turnovers certainly kept the Gophers in the game, but a lackluster run defense of the Buckeyes allowed them to capitalize on the mistakes. -- Blake Williams

Ohio State pass defense: This was supposed to be Ohio State's biggest advantage and really, it was. Mitch Leidner just had a horrible day, completing 7 of 19 passes for 85 yards while being sacked three times and tossing two critical interceptions. If it weren't for a few other mistakes, including a couple of costly pass interference calls, this area would have strongly gone to OSU. Still, Doran Grant and Vonn Bell got picks and the Buckeyes did a very good job neutralizing tight end Maxx Williams, who is a veritable stud but who had just one big play, a 36-yard catch. -- Jeff Svoboda

What We Learned…

Ryan Ginn: Jalin Marshall should take at least a one-game break from fielding punts. The talented playmaker is an explosive option on offense, and I have no issues with the fact that Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has elected to keep him involved as a weapon in both the rushing and passing game. When it comes to special teams, though, it’s time for an intervention. Ohio State had the game won by an impressive margin until the redshirt freshman coughed the ball up -- again. If the playoff committee only remembers the result and not the circumstances, this game might not help the Buckeyes come December. I believe in Marshall from a long-term standpoint, but a hiatus from punt returns might be necessary.

Marcus Hartman: The Buckeyes can beat a ranked team on the road without playing anything close to a perfect game. The Golden Gophers deserved their spot in the top 25, although their limitations in the throw game are clear. They made Ohio State earn it, and the Buckeyes did that. That's a credit to a team and the coaching staff a there did not appear to be any hangover from the big win at Michigan State. However, the holes in the run defense have to be a concern considering Minnesota really had no threat of a passing attack. How will the playoff committee weigh that issue when trying to figure out how good the Buckeyes are?

Jeff Svoboda: Ohio State is a very good team when it doesn't make mistakes. Of course, mistakes are the domain of youth, with redshirt freshman Jalin Marshall losing two turnovers and classmate J.T. Barrett putting one out there on an interception. But if you take out those mistakes, Ohio State wins going away. The Buckeyes mostly dominated scrimmage play, doubling up the Gophers for most of the game before finishing with a 489-303 edge in yardage that was helped vastly by Minnesota's last scoring drive. This was no easy environment in which to win, and Ohio State came out firing and would have really impressed the committee if it could have just held on the ball.

Blake Williams: The Buckeyes still have a way to go to reach their ceiling. For the second straight week Ohio State made a handful of dumb mistakes on the road against a ranked team but still left with a win. Three costly turnovers and a handful of costly penalties would doom a lot of teams on the road, but the Buckeyes rebounded nicely. If they can clean up the mistakes going forward, how good can they be? I’m not sure, but I know they can be better, which is a scary thought for the rest of the conference. While I’m sure fans are frustrated by the mistakes, the fact that Ohio State has been able to overcome them shows me its ceiling might be even higher than I thought.

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