5 Answers: Minnesota at Ohio State

Ohio State got a break when Minnesota's best offensive weapon left the game with an injury, but the Buckeyes also helped themselves by limiting penalties and turnovers. We look at those three issues and more in this week's edition of Five Answers.

1. Can Ohio State contain Eric Decker?

The leading Golden Gopher receiver's day ended early because of an ankle injury.

He caught three passes for 27 yards, and his absence certainly altered the Minnesota coaching staff's plans for attacking the Buckeyes.

"I think once Decker went out, it was easier for us to hone in on what they were trying to do," Ohio State safety Kurt Coleman said.


2. Will Minnesota try to copy anything from the Buckeyes' Purdue film?

This answer turned out to be yes, to a certain extent.

Decker entered the game with nearly 50 percent of Minnesota's receptions this season, but even before he was injured, Golden Gopher quarterback Adam Weber appeared to make a conscious effort to spread the ball around.

"They brought a little fast-paced tempo that kind of threw us off a little," Coleman said. "We were kind of rushing our calls and not getting set up properly. They were kind of doing what Purdue did, hitting us for quick passes and getting some yards after the catch, so I think once we adjusted to that and understand that we needed to hold out some things and play some more man coverages, I think we did a fine job."


3. Will there be any hangovers after disappointing losses?

Neither team came out looking sharp.

The Buckeyes went three and out on their first possession then forced the Golden Gophers to punt after five plays.

Ohio State gained 78 yards on its ensuing possession but came up empty after a missed field goal.

Minnesota moved the ball fairly well early but continually hurt itself with penalties and dropped passes. Then the Gopher secondary blew a coverage to allow Ohio State receiver DeVier Posey to run free for a 62-yard touchdown reception.

Though that was the only score of the first half, Ohio State players said they felt confident at halftime.

"It's tough not to put points on the board but I think it showed us that we were able to move the ball," said receiver Dane Sanzenbacher.


4. Which team will better pressure the passer?

Ohio State's pass protection was much improved from a week earlier. After giving up five sacks at Purdue, the Buckeyes allowed just one to the Gophers. The line gave quarterback Terrelle Pryor more time to get comfortable, and he responded with a much better game, too.

"I thought protection was better," said center Michael Brewster. "Last week, I just don't think everyone was on the same page. We've got some guys a little banged up but I thought protection overall was pretty good. We ran the ball pretty well, too. There are always things we should have had back, but I think we're heading in the right direction. We've just got to keep performing."

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes piled up four sacks of their own.


5. Can Ohio State cut down on penalties and get the turnover margin back in its favor?

Check and check.

Although there were mistakes, the season-long problem with pre-snap penalties on offense was only a minimal concern Saturday as Ohio State committed only one. The other four penalties on the Buckeyes were two holding calls, a defensive pass interference and an illegal block by a defensive player after Coleman made an interception.

Minnesota, meanwhile, killed itself with eight penalties for 72 yards, including a late hit that negated a great defensive play deep in Ohio State territory in the second quarter. The flag for a personal foul gave the Buckeyes a first down at their 38, and on the next play Pryor hit Posey for the aforementioned bomb.

The Gophers committed four turnovers in the second half, and the Buckeyes turned them into 24 points to forge a blowout after a closely contested first half.


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