Ohio State-Minnesota Game Review

Ohio State defeated Minnesota 34-21 in a game that wasn't as close as the final score might indicate. For the Buckeyes it was another solid performance, but two late scores by the Gophers put a mild damper on the win. Bill Greene has more on the Buckeyes win in the Big 10 season opener.

Ohio State opened Big 10 big play Saturday, and finished with a 34-21 win that wasn't as close as the score indicates. For the Buckeyes, who led 34-6 late in the third quarter, the win featured the return of Chris "Beanie" Wells. Wells carried 14 times for 106 yards, and looked to be 100 percent healthy.

Freshman sensation Terrelle Pryor was in impressive in his second career start. Pryor rushed for 97 yards and scored two touchdowns, and added another 70 yards of passing. For Pryor, it wasn't a game of sparkling numbers, but there is no mistaking the fact that he is now firmly entrenched as the starter. Former starter Todd Boeckman had a strong performance in a relief role, throwing for 65 yards, including a beautiful 31-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robiskie.

Robiskie played his finest game of the season, catching two touchdown passes and accounting for 90 receiving yards. Robiskie appeared to be totally healthy for the first time this season, and looked quicker than he has at any time this season. He will be needed to play at a high level for the Buckeyes to contend for a third straight Big 10 title.

The offensive line was much better for the second week in a row, and also featured center Mike Brewster in his second consecutive start. Even subtracting Pryor's rushing yardage, the Buckeyes averaged 5 yards per carry, with three tailbacks getting carries. Wells' return showed yet again just how important he is to Ohio State's rushing success. The hope is that Beanie can be healthy enough to carry the football 20-25 times this coming Saturday at Wisconsin. The combination of Pryor and Wells will be extremely tough for the Badgers to stop.

Defensively the Buckeyes were dominant for three quarters, before a combination of lost intensity and numerous substitutions allowed Minnesota to score twice.

The defensive line played fairly well, allowing only three first downs on the ground, and limiting the Gophers to less than three yards per rush. The longest running play was only ten yards, and the Buckeyes played a lot of different combinations up front. Freshman Nathan Williams was aggressive at the point of attack and just might be playing his way into the rotation for the Buckeyes.

James Laurinaitis was once again very solid from his middle linebacking spot, leading the Buckeyes in tackles once again. Ross Homan was active, and might have played his best game of his young career. Freshman Etienne Sabino was a strong special teams player, and showed promise of being a fine linebacker once he gains more experience.

The Buckeye special teams were little more than average, although punter A.J. Trapasso averaged 54 yards on his two punts. The Buckeye kickoff return team was unimpressive, averaging less than 20 yards per return. Ryan Pretorius connected on two of his three field goal attempts.

Overall it was a solid performance, although the fourth quarter letdown will give the Buckeye staff plenty to work on this week in practice. The Buckeyes also committed ten penalties, and many were unforced errors.

The Buckeyes took another step forward against Minnesota in their attempt to become the type of team many were expecting to see in 2008. The Buckeyes will need to be at their best to beat Wisconsin next Saturday evening inside the "Madhouse in Madison." The Badgers should still be steaming following their second half collapse against Michigan this past Saturday.

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