It's game day folks. It's not a make or break type of game, but it's probably the most hyped game in the short Tim Brewster era.
Throughout the week, I've tried to have a little fun, perhaps annoy the Buckeye faithful a tad. But in speaking positively about the Gophers, it's not because I've always stood up for or praised Brewster. The relative confidence coming from this Minnesota fan was derived from tangible results. Adam Weber has been uber-efficient. The Gophers are creating turnovers and also protecting the ball. The Gophers have controlled the ball and made big plays on both sides of the ball
A defense that was impossible to watch last year has been more than respectable. Minnesota shut down last year's Sun Belt champion Florida Atlantic, while OSU struggled against Sun Belt also-ran Troy.
Minnesota fans, there are reasons to think the Gophers can compete, indeed win, today in Columbus. But I'm not ready to predict that. I think the Ohio State offense will continue to struggle even though Beanie Wells looks like he'll be back. I expect Terelle Pryor to make some big plays with his feet and a few with his arm. But that's not the side of the ball where I think Ohio State will win.
Fact is, Minnesota's offensive line is extremely inexperienced. As you'll see Brewster point out below, the Gophers are starting two redshirt freshman and three redshirt sophomores along the O-line. Add to that starting running back DeLeon Eskridge hasn't played against anything resembling a tough defense, and I think it will be difficult for Minnesota to play it's ball control game.
I expect OSU's front seven to stop Minnesota's running game and pressure Weber. I think the game can be close if Minnesota gets a break or two, but if the breaks or turnovers go the other way, a blowout is possible.
Official PJS prediction: OSU 24, Minnesota 16.
What say you?
- Buckeye Legends predicts an OSU win: 45-17.
- This columnist from Ohio calls Brewster a "kitchen sink thrower of optimism." and predicts a 35-14 OSU win.
- Tim Brewster is downplaying expectations for the game. This is smart. From the AP: "It's pretty optimistic to say we match up 'well' with them," he said. "We're starting two redshirt freshmen and three redshirt sophomores on the offensive line -- and I think Ohio State might have the best defensive front I've seen. They're extremely active and tough and physical. I'm not ready to say we match up well with Ohio State."
- The Toledo Blade discusses the return of Beanie Wells. Brewster calls facing Wells an "extremely daunting task."
- The Ohio State student newspaper The Lantern previews the tilt by focusing on Pryor v. Weber, and touches on Minnesota's turnover margin and defensive changes for OSU.
- Now, this column annoyed me. The Indianapolis Star's Terry Hutchens broke down the Big Ten teams into five. categories: Big Ten's Best, More Data Needed, The Best of the Rest, Questions and Issues and Uh-Oh. Hutchens puts the 4-0 Gophers in the "Uh-Oh" category, based on, well, nothing. I wonder how many Minnesota games, or rather, I wonder how many minutes of the Gophers football team Hutchens has watched. "The Golden Gophers are 4-0, but the bubble is about to burst."