Ohio State has never lost to the Golden Gophers in the Metrodome. Look for that streak to continue tomorrow. The Gophers are as bad on defense as they are good on offense. Minnesota gives up 38 points per game while averaging 35 points themselves. They only have one victory in the 2007 campaign and have played an extremely weak schedule.
The key for the Buckeyes this week is to find a way to slow down the Gophers offense. Their line is talented, has opened up huge running lanes for the backs and has only given up three quarterback sacks all season. No fear, though. Jim Heacock's Silver Bullets will rise to the occasion in the Buckeyes last appearance ever in the Dome.
Here are my Six Points To Victory:
1. Run at the Linebackers
As the case with Northwestern, the Minnesota linebackers are not very athletic. They have trouble getting off blocks and tackling in the open field. The Buckeyes need to run at the backers with isolation and power off-tackle plays. Teams have also hurt the Gophers with the draw. Look for the Ohio State offense to have a big ground game come Saturday night.
2. Attack Middle Zone
The strength of the Golden Gopher defense is the secondary. Their corners are fairly talented in zone coverage and the safeties aren't bad even though they are questionable in run support. The weakness of the Minnesota pass defense is in the middle. If Todd Boeckman throws over the linebackers and underneath the safeties, the Buckeyes can put up a lot of yardage in the air. Add this to a big ground game and OSU has a chance of putting up 500 total yards Saturday.
3. Stop the Outside Run
The Golden Gophers have a big and physical offensive line that has plowed the way for nearly 300 yards per game rushing. The Minnesota offense tries to get the ball outside on the handoff sweep, outside zone and option. This will be the best offensive line OSU has faced all year and the Buckeye defensive front will definitely get tested. It will be crucial that the Ohio State linebackers and secondary give great run support on the outside.
4. Bring Outside Pressure
The stout Minnesota line has only given up three sacks all season. They have had little trouble handling inside line stunts and linebacker blitzes. The Buckeyes need to bring pressure from the corners and field safeties to get to the quarterback Adam Weber. He has good poise for a freshman so we need to try and rattle the rookie early by bringing heat from the outside.
5. Watch for First Down Screen
Like most teams from the spread formation, Minnesota runs a number of screen passes. The multiple formation Gophers will throw their various screens from many different alignments. They really like to run the screen on first-and-10. They consider the screen a safe pass if the defense is in zone coverage and it has a chance to break for a big gain if the defense blitzes. The Gophers also like the screen in second-and-long situations.
6. Pressure Gopher Specialists
The Minnesota special units have been inconsistent. They have had one punt blocked and have only made 50 percent of their field goal attempts. As a matter of fact, they have used two different field goal kickers. OSU needs to pressure the Gopher punters and place kickers. At the same time, the Buckeyes need to solidify their long and short snapping. They have had too many snaps hit the ground, and that's living on the edge.
Coach Conley's Six Points: Minnesota
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