Looking at the Gophers

This week, we are bringing in a special guest to help us look at the Gophers. Hopefully the Buckeyes will be better at beating the Gophers than he is.

Today, we take our weekly look at OSU's next opponent, and this time, we are lucky enough to be joined by a very special guest. 

Every year, when the Buckeyes play the Minnesota Golden Gophers, people bring out the references to the famous line in the movie Caddyshack, "Great big gobs of greasy, grimy Gopher guts."  That certainly is a fun line to use when the Gophers are on the schedule, but this time, I thought we should go one step further and actually invite the man who spoke the line, Mr. Carl Spackler, to come join us in previewing this game.  Mr. Spackler, welcome.

Carl Spackler: Thank you, it's a pleasure to be here. 

Bucknuts: Carl, in analyzing the Gophers, what do you see as their strengths and weaknesses?

Carl: Well, excuse me for saying this sir, but if we analyze all the golfers, we could be here a while...

Bucknuts: No, Carl... I meant the Gophers.  I see you're still getting the two confused.  We're talking about the Minnesota Golden Gophers here.

Carl: Oh, okay... well, even though Minnesota is 3-4 this year, they are like varmints... and a varmint will never quit.  They're like Viet Cong... Varmint Cong...

Bucknuts: That's for sure.  You never can count out the Gophers.  They are usually a team that you don't think of as being a powerhouse, but that doesn't mean they can't sneak up on you.  They have some quality players on offense, particularly WR Ron Johnson.  Buckeye fans will definitely remember Ron Johnson from last year.  So far this season, he has 37 catches for 508 yards and 5 TDs.  Minnesota also features a couple of fine running backs in Tellis Redmon and Marion Barber.  Redmon has 788 yards on 115 carries and 5 TD while Barber has 80 carries for 549 yards and 6 TDs. 

The Gophers have played switcheroo at QB throughout the year, as Travis Cole and Asad Abdul-Khaliq have both seen their share of time.  Cole was the man who was at the controls during last year's upset over OSU, but Abdul-Khaliq could be the starter this Saturday.  He put up good numbers in the last game against Murray State. 

Carl: Hey, I know a guy named Murray.

Bucknuts: That's nice.  Carl, what advice would you have for the OSU defense in stopping the Minnesota offense?

Carl: Gunga galunga... gunga... gunga galunga.

Bucknuts: Thank you very little. 

One thing about the Gophers... they were strong on the offensive line last year.  This year, they bring back Derek Burns and Ryan Roth.  But they had a great center in Ben Hamilton, and he's gone. They also have some other players to keep an eye on at the skill positions in WRs Antoine Henderson and Antoine Burns, and also TE Ben Utecht.  Speaking of Burns and Utecht... Carl, did you hear about the stuff the Minnesota players said about OSU?  They are saying this is going to be a win for the Gophers.  What do you think about that?

Carl: License to kill Gophers by the government of the United Nations... 

Man... free to kill Gopher at will...

Bucknuts: Yes, we agree. 

Let's look at the defense now.  Last year, Minnesota brought some fine defensive players to Columbus, particularly DE Karon Riley.  Many of those players from that defense are gone, including Riley, and coming into the season, it was an issue for the Gophers.  They were pretty bad at first as they got mauled by Toledo.  They still aren't holding teams down as they have allowed 398 yards per game, with 236.6 through the air and 161.4 on the ground.  The Gophers aren't great at sacking the quarterback either as they have just 11 sacks this year.  LB Phil Archer and S Jack Brewer are leading the team in tackles, with 85 and 84 respectively. 

There are other storylines surrounding this game, particularly the coaching storyline, which everyone is well aware of.  It should be a motivating factor for Glen Mason; will it be a motivating factor for the Gophers?  That's tough to say.  This is a team that faced some difficult times when Glen Mason lost out for the OSU job, and the players probably didn't feel too good about it, but that feeling should be gone in this game.

This is a prime-time ESPN game, but Minnesota has had trouble (as always) filling seats this year, and they are trying to this week by running a special promotion.  And what better to fill the seats than bobble-head doll day...

Carl: Hey, will plastic explosives fit in that thing?  I could use it to hunt Gophers...

Bucknuts: That's a good idea, but you gotta be one of the first 10,000 in attendance.  Does that make you want to go to the game?

Carl: No... but I would go if I could go swimming.  Do they have a pool up there?

Bucknuts: I think so... but they also have lots of ponds.  Minnesota is the Land of Lakes, so they have lots of ponds.  I think a pond would be good for you...

Carl: Pool, pond, doesn't matter...

Bucknuts: So now we're getting to prediction time.  This will be a tough game for OSU.  The Gophers are 7-35 lifetime against the Buckeyes, but the Gophers proved last year that they can beat the Buckeyes.  To avoid two in a row, the Buckeyes will have to play better defense.  Last year, the Bucks couldn't stop Ron Johnson, and they had trouble with Tellis Redmon as well, so they are going to have to do a better job this time around.  Last week, the Buckeyes gave up a very un-Buckeye like 500+ yards to Penn State, and they cannot afford to do the same.  The Minnesota defense is not overwhelming, and the Buckeyes should be able to move the ball on them, so this one could come down to how well the Buckeye D can bounce back.  The guess here is that the Buckeyes are going to come out fired up -- with the help of the comments from Burns and Utecht -- and will want to take it to this team.  The feeling here is that it will be a tight game, maybe one that is similar to the 1999 game where the Buckeyes won by a field goal.  But as far as a prediction, we're going to let our special guest to the honors... Carl...

Carl???  Are you there?

Carl: Oh, I'm sorry, I was distracted by Lacy Underall.  What were you saying?

Bucknuts:  Prediction time.

Carl: Okay... to make this prediction, I will have to reach out to the spirit of the Dalai Lama... the twelfth son of the Lama... I predict it will be a Cinderella story. The Buckeyes, left for dead, will come out of nowhere, and these Cinderella boys, with the crowd standing on its feet, will fight to the finish, and at the end, the kick goes up... and it's in the hole!  It's in the hole...

Prediction: Buckeyes 27, Gophers 24.

Resources: All pictures and inspiration from http://www.carlspackler.com

Stats: http://www.bigten.org/PressReleases//20010902/fbc-2001-stats-minn.html


Buckeye Sports Top Stories