Over its last 20 trips to Ohio State, Minnesota has just one win to show for it. That victory came back in 2000, a 29-17 triumph in John Cooper’s final season. Most contests between these two squads – regardless of site – haven’t been too close over the last four or five decades. Modern-day Minnesota will never be mistaken for a football factory, but the Gophers have generally been worse at Ohio Stadium and worse against Ohio State than they have been from an overall standpoint.
Enter head coach Jerry Kill, who didn’t get a shot at Ohio State until his fourth season thanks to the scheduling quirks that came with two different division alignments. The 2014 game that broke the largest gap in the series (four years) since the 1960s was a good one, but OSU still left Minneapolis with a 31-24 win. That was one of the best chances the Gophers have had in recent years to topple Ohio State, and the juggernaut OSU is currently building under Urban Meyer means they may have to wait a while for their next good chance.
No. 5: Minnesota
Nickname: Golden Gophers
Conference: Big Ten
Stadium: TCF Bank Stadium (52,525)
Head coach: Jerry Kill (fifth year, 25-26)
Record against Ohio State: 7-43
Returning starters: five offense, seven defense
2014 record: 8-5 (5-3 Big Ten)
Scout.com recruiting rankings: No. 56 (2015), No. 49 (2014), No. 74 (2013), No. 66 (2012), No. 67 (2011)
Who to watch: DE Theiren Cockran, CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun, CB Eric Murray, QB Mitch Leidner, P Peter Mortell
Why This Matchup Could Be Higher:
There’s always a chance Minnesota gives Ohio State another good game, but this seems to be the ceiling as far as its placement in a list of intriguing games when you look at what opponents are remaining on this countdown.
Why This Matchup Could Be Lower:
Minnesota got Ohio State where it wanted it last year – in the snow, in the Twin Cities, with the Buckeyes a week removed from a brutal game against Michigan State – and the Gophers still couldn’t close the deal. With the Buckeyes returning more talent and playing at home while coming off an open date, it’s hard to imagine Minnesota giving Ohio State as good a game as it did last year.