Ohio State Run Offense: Minnesota completely sold out to stop the run, putting eight men in the box throughout the game, and the Gophers had some success doing it. Ezekiel Elliott got to 100 yards again, but they were hard-earned and his long on the night was just 15. The Buckeyes were most successful running the quarterback, which came as a bit of a surprise considering it was Cardale Jones and not J.T. Barrett in the backfield. Jones executed a couple of quarterback draws well, finishing with 65 yards and a touchdown on the night. Two of the Buckeyes three offensive scores came on the ground, but the Gophers did a nice job of making the ground game a challenge for Ohio State. – Blake Williams
Ohio State Pass Offense: For all the misses in the passing game Ohio State had against Minnesota, there were actually a couple of big hits. The 44-yard pass to Marshall set up Ezekiel Elliott’s 15-yard touchdown to put the Buckeyes up 14-0 at the half, and Cardale Jones’ 45-yard strike to Braxton Miller should have led to at least three points, but the field goal was missed. Despite that, the passing game was poor overall as Jones completed 12 of 22 passes for just 187 yards and he was sacked four times. I’d say that should be a concern for Ohio State, but with J.T. Barrett off his suspension next week, things should turn around quickly. – Tim Moody
Ohio State Run Defense: The Buckeye run defense really could not have been much better against the Golden Gophers. Minnesota managed just 33 yards rushing on the night and were very one dimensional as the Ohio State front seven dominated the game. Minnesota’s pass offense is predicated on play action passing, but it was hard to set it up with the likes of Joshua Perry and Raekwon McMillan consistently filling the holes. The longest run Ohio State allowed was just 13 yards, as Minnesota averaged just 1.3 yards per carry on the night. – James Grega
Ohio State Pass Defense: Mitch Leidner certainly had his moments, finishing 27 of 44 with two touchdowns, but he also threw a pick six that jump-started Ohio State after a rocky first quarter for the Buckeyes. Still, he managed to hurt the secondary more than he should have. All but one of Minnesota’s 13 first downs came through the air, and allowing 281 yards is never good enough no matter the circumstances. – Ryan Ginn
What We Learned
Ryan Ginn: There are a lot of takeaways from this game, some good and some bad, but the biggest is this: Ohio State still has a zero in the loss column. That alone won’t be enough in the long run – superior play will have to arrive at some point – but for now it’s a good enough outcome and one that former unbeatens LSU, Memphis, Michigan State, TCU and Toledo would take in a heartbeat over their current situations. Only six teams have spotless records, and Ohio State is one of them.
James Grega: For whatever reason, the Ohio State offense is significantly better with J.T. Barrett at the helm. Most of us already knew this, but Cardale Jones was given another chance to show he could bring back the performances of last season’s magical stretch and could not do it. Statistically, Jones did not play bad by any means, but the offense just does not seem to flow when he is behind center. Coach Urban Meyer even admitted he could sense a different flow to the offense and to the game when Jones is in there as compared to Barrett. I would say this is telling and significant as Meyer, without flinching said Barrett would be considered back for the starting job even after last weekend’s incident.
Tim Moody: There seems to be something in the water when Cardale Jones is in, and that’s not a good thing anymore. While Jones himself admitted he played poorly against Minnesota, the entire offense seems to morph into a new — read: worse — unit when the junior is in. He still has a ton of talent, but this game was a turning point in my eyes. He can still win games for the Buckeyes, but Ohio State is simply better — much better — when J.T. Barrett is in. That said, Jones might get a chance to start against Illinois, but barring injury or other incidents, that would be his last start for the Buckeyes.
Blake Williams: The best thing about going 9-0 is a chance to go 10-0. While I normally roll my eyes at Urban Meyer’s well-worn expression, undefeated teams around the country fell on a day that Ohio State survived and really that’s all that matters. The Buckeyes did not play their best against the Gophers, but they got the win and remained undefeated. They’re in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten and national title and didn’t succumb to the same fate as Michigan State, LSU and TCU. Ohio State preserved their opportunity to go 10-0 next week against Illinois and really that’s the biggest takeaway from a pretty lackluster performance.