Game Data: Minnesota at Ohio State

We have our weekly look at the game ahead with the pertinent information, depth charts and a prediction as No. 1-ranked Ohio State prepares to host Minnesota for Homecoming (3:30 p.m., ABC regional telecast). Click this free link for more.

Game Data: Minnesota at Ohio State

* Date, Time: Sat., Oct. 28; 3:36 p.m. (Eastern)

* Location: Ohio Stadium

* TV: ABC regional telecast. (ABC will also televise Miami-Georgia Tech and Missouri-Oklahoma State in the same time slot.) Announcers: Mark Jones, David Norrie and Stacey Dales.

Here is the ABC coverage map:

ABC coverage map

* 2006 Records, Rankings: Ohio State, 8-0 overall, 4-0 Big Ten; ranked first in Associated Press poll and USA Today coaches poll; Minnesota, 3-5 overall, 0-4 Big Ten, unranked.

* Coaches: Ohio State, Jim Tressel (sixth year at OSU, 58-13; 21st year overall, 193-70-2; vs. Minnesota, 3-0); Minnesota, Glen Mason (10th season at UM, 61-55; 21st year overall, 120-119-1; vs. Ohio State, 1-6).

* Series History: Ohio State leads the all-time series 38-7, including 19-3 in Columbus. The Buckeyes have won 19 of the last 20 games in the series. The one loss was a 29-17 Minnesota win in 2000 in Columbus. The Buckeyes won 45-31 in Minneapolis last year.

* Minnesota Schedule: Aug. 31, at Kent State, W 44-0; Sept. 9, at California, L 42-17; Sept. 16, Temple, W 62-0; Sept. 23, at Purdue, L 27-21; Sept. 30, Michigan, L 28-14; Oct. 7, Penn State, L 28-27 (OT); Oct. 14, at Wisconsin, L 48-12; Oct. 21, North Dakota State, W 10-9; Oct. 28, at Ohio State; Nov. 4, Indiana; Nov. 11, at Michigan State; Nov. 18, Iowa.

* Minnesota Key Players (2006 Stats): QB Bryan Cupito (126 of 212 passing, 1,548 yards, 11 TDs, 4 INTs), RB Amir Pinnix (145 carries, 747 yards, 6 TDs), RB Alex Daniels (67 carries, 309 yards, 5 TDs), WR Logan Payne (35 catches, 468 yards, 7 TDs), TE Matt Spaeth (35 catches, 439, 2 TDs), WR Ernie Wheelwright (17 catches, 175 yards), MLB Mike Sherels (64 tackles, 3-1/2 TFLs), CB Dominic Jones (45 tackles, 1 INT), FS Dom Barber (48 tackles, 1 INT), DE Willy VanDeSteeg (4 sacks, 8-1/2 TFLs), DE Steve Davis (3-1/2 sacks, 5-1/2 TFLs).

* Minnesota Fast Facts: Location: Minneapolis, Minn.; Enrollment, 47,618; Nickname, Gophers; Colors, Maroon and Gold; Stadium, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (surface, FieldTurf; capacity, 64,172).

Depth Charts

Ohio State Offense

SE 80 Brian Robiskie, 6-3, 195, So.

8 Roy Hall, 6-3, 240, Sr.

LT 75 Alex Boone, 6-8, 325, So.

68 Tim Schafer, 6-5, 290, Sr.

LG 71 Steve Rehring, 6-8, 329, So.

68 Tim Schafer, 6-5, 290, Sr.

C 50 Doug Datish, 6-5, 295, Sr.

54 Tyler Whaley, 6-1, 270, So.

RG 72 T.J. Downing, 6-4, 305, Sr.

63 Ben Person, 6-4, 315, So.

RT 74 Kirk Barton, 6-6, 310, Jr.

or 79 Jon Skinner, 6-5, 300, So.

TE 88 Rory Nicol, 6-5, 250, So.

87 Brandon Smith, 6-3, 252, So.

FL 7 Ted Ginn Jr., 6-0, 180, Jr.

4 Ray Small, 6-0, 175, Fr.

QB 10 Troy Smith, 6-1, 215, Sr.

12 Justin Zwick, 6-4, 225, Sr.

TB 25 Antonio Pittman, 5-11, 195, Jr.

28 Chris Wells, 6-1, 225, Fr.

FB 89 Stan White Jr., 6-2, 242, Sr.

49 Dionte Johnson, 6-0, 234, Jr.

SL 11 Anthony Gonzalez, 6-0, 195, Jr.

9 Brian Hartline, 6-3, 180, R-Fr.

K 20 Aaron Pettrey, 6-1, 195, R-Fr.

85 Ryan Pretorius, 5-9, 180, So.

Ohio State Defense

DE 99 Jay Richardson, 6-6, 276, Sr.

87 Lawrence Wilson, 6-6, 270, So.

DT 98 Joel Penton, 6-5, 290, Sr.

97 David Patterson, 6-3, 285, Sr.

DT 90 Quinn Pitcock, 6-3, 295, Sr.

92 Todd Denlinger, 6-3, 280, R-Fr.

DE 50 Vernon Gholston, 6-4, 260, So.

78 Alex Barrow, 6-5, 275, So.

SLB 1 Marcus Freeman, 6-2, 242, So.

55 Curtis Terry, 6-2, 234, Jr.

MLB 33 James Laurinaitis, 6-3, 244, So.

6 Larry Grant, 6-3, 225, Jr.

WLB 52 John Kerr, 6-1, 233, Sr.

51 Ross Homan, 6-1, 237, Fr.

CB 2 Malcolm Jenkins, 6-1, 202, So.

13 Andre Amos, 6-1, 180, R-Fr.

FS 3 Jamario O'Neal, 6-1, 200, So.

8 Aaron Gant, 6-0, 205, Fr.

SS 32 Brandon Mitchell, 6-3, 205, Sr.

23 Nick Patterson, 6-2, 210, So.

CB 14 Antonio Smith, 5-9, 195, Sr.

20 Donald Washington, 6-1, 195, R-Fr.

NB 20 Donald Washington, 6-1, 195, R-Fr.

23 Nick Patterson, 6-2, 210, So.

P 15 A.J. Trapasso, 6-1, 220, So.

48 Jon Thoma, 6-1, 190, R-Fr.

LS 58 Drew Norman, 6-0, 230, Sr.

Minnesota Offense

WR 84 Logan Payne, 6-2, 205, Sr.

7 Eric Decker, 6-2, 210, R-Fr.

TE 89 Matt Spaeth, 6-7, 265, Sr.

80 Jack Simmons, 6-4, 240, So.

LT 64 Steve Shidell, 6-5, 290, Jr.

76 Dominic Alford, 6-3, 305, Fr.

LG 56 Tyson Swaggert, 6-4, 290, Sr.

74 Ryan Ruckdashel, 6-5, 275, R-Fr.

C 77 Tony Brinkhaus, 6-3, 295, Jr.

56 Tyson Swaggert, 6-4, 290, Sr.

RG 66 Nedward Tavale, 6-2, 305, R-Fr.

75 Otis Hudson, 6-5, 310, Fr.

RT 78 Joe Ainslie, 6-7, 310, Sr.

79 Matt DeGeest, 6-5, 275, So.

QB 3 Bryan Cupito, 6-3, 205, Sr.

17 Tony Mortensen, 6-3, 230, So.

TB 29 Amir Pinnix, 6-0, 205, Jr.

6 Alex Daniels, 6-3, 255, So.

FB 18 Justin Valentine, 6-1, 230, Jr.

49 Jeremy Faue, 5-11, 230, Jr.

WR 1 Ernie Wheelwright, 6-5, 215, Jr.

12 Mike Chambers, 6-1, 190, R-Fr.

K 31 Jason Giannini, 5-9, 185, So.

Minnesota Defense

DE 92 Steve Davis, 6-2, 235, So.

65 William Brody, 6-4, 245, So.

DT 98 Neel Allen, 6-3, 285, Jr.

90 Eric Clark, 6-4, 270, Sr.

DT 70 Todd Meisel, 6-4, 275, Jr.

or 99 Garrett Brown, 6-2, 285, Fr.

DE 91 Willie VanDeSteeg, 6-4, 255, So.

94 Willie Dyson, 6-3, 230, Fr.

WLB 44 Deon Hightower, 6-3, 210, So.

46 John Shevlin, 6-1, 225, Jr.

MLB 58 Mike Sherels, 6-0, 240, Jr.

46 John Shevlin, 6-1, 225, Jr.

DLB 48 Mario Reese, 6-3, 230, Jr.

44 Deon Hightower, 6-3, 210, So.

CB 15 Jamal Harris, 6-0, 185, Jr.

11 Desi Steib, 6-0, 185, Jr.

SS 26 Duran Cooley, 6-0, 205, Jr.

28 Kevin Mannion, 6-2, 210, So.

FS 23 Dominique Barber, 6-0, 210, Jr.

28 Kevin Mannion, 6-2, 210, So.

CB 2 Dominic Jones, 5-8, 190, So.

9 Keith Massey, 6-1, 195, R-Fr.

P 41 Justin Kucek, 6-0, 200, So.

Breaking It Down

* When Ohio State Has The Ball: The Buckeyes enjoyed their largest offensive output of the season last week as they rolled up 540 yards total offense – 270 rushing and 270 passing – in their 44-3 pounding of Indiana. The Hoosiers left Columbus with the Big Ten's 10th-rated total defense. Minnesota comes in at No. 9 in the conference in total defense at 390.1 yards per game. The Gophers are also tied for ninth in rushing defense at 167.1 ypg allowed.

OSU's big game against Indiana allowed the Buckeyes to move up to No. 2 in the conference in total offense (410.1 ypg). Obviously, it seems preordained that Ohio State will be able to move the ball against Minnesota, which gave up 42 points to Cal and 48 points to Wisconsin.

Troy Smith got banged up in last year's 45-31 win at Minnesota, but still threw for 233 yards and three touchdowns. Those seem to be his numbers nearly every week this year, so look for another strong game out of Smith. I like Minnesota's ends, Willie VanDeSteeg and Steve Davis, but the rest of the UM defense seems soft to me.

* When Minnesota Has The Ball: The Buckeyes need to be on top of their game. Minnesota did have a 576-yard game against OSU last year, but some well placed turnovers and missed opportunities helped the Buckeyes pull that game out.

Bryan Cupito is back at QB. He threw for 396 yards against OSU a year ago, but the Gophers are averaging exactly half of that total (198.5 ypg) through the air this year. Minnesota has long been known for its ground game. But without several key pieces of the offensive line and with star tailback Laurence Maroney off to the NFL, UM has been inconsistent in the running game. UM has fallen to seventh in the conference (161.0 ypg) in that category.

Each week, Ohio State gets closer to that elusive shutout on defense. I don't think they'll get it here. But that doesn't mean Minnesota will get much accomplished, either.

* How It Will Go: Let's face it: Ohio State is on one of those rolls you rarely see. They have won their first eight games by an average of nearly 27 points per game.

And it should be another fun day at the Horseshoe with Homecoming and golfing legend Jack Nicklaus on hand to join an exclusive club as he will dot the I in Script Ohio.

It has been a disappointing year for Minnesota, still in search of its first Big Ten victory. The Gophers' wins are even suspect – 44-0 over Kent (OK, Kent is a pretty good MAC team this year), 62-0 over a terrible Temple team and a 10-9 win over I-AA North Dakota State that looked and felt much more like a 21-point loss (complete with fans chanting "Fire Mason!").

So, honestly, it is hard to get excited about UM's chances of keeping this game any closer than Indiana did this past weekend – and Indiana had at least been playing well. You know Glen Mason will summon anything he can. A win would certainly revive UM's bleak postseason hopes and would send shock waves across college football. After all, Mason and Minnesota did come into Ohio Stadium and stole a game from a 5-0 Ohio State team in 2000 (29-17).

But the Buckeyes do not seem intent on slipping up any time soon. I've got it: Ohio State 44-10

* For The Record: I am 8-0 straight-up and 5-3 against-the-spread with Ohio State. (As of Tuesday, OSU was listed as a 27-point favorite.)

* Other Picks: On this week's Bucknuts Radio Hour, all of the panelists picked Ohio State. Mr. Bucknuts picked OSU 35-10. Jerry Rudzinski said OSU 38-14. Dave Biddle said OSU 38-10. Kirk Larrabee said OSU 41-7. Chip Scoggins, our guest from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, said OSU 42-10.

-- Steve Helwagen


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