First..a few housekeeping items and things you need to know.
Kickoff Time: 7 PM CST
Where: Columbus, OH
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com
Radio: KFAN (100.3 in the Twin Cities) and the Gopher Radio Network (Radio Affiliates).
Streaming Audio: Locate KFAN on IHeartRadio.com (or the IHeartRadio app for your mobile device)
Satellite Radio: SiriusXM 195; Sirius 135; XM195
And on to the predictions
Just a year ago the Gophers proved that they were talented enough and big enough and strong enough that they could play with the Ohio State Buckeyes. It was clearly a loss and no points were gained for being close. And yes Ohio State had a miscue or two that helped the Gophers. But it should be noted that Minnesota didn't exactly play mistake free football and gave some points away as well. Point is, we obviously were not quite good enough to beat them but the talent gap was significantly closer than it had been in a long time.
Now Minnesota has to travel to Columbus after what has been a rocky and tumultuous season with their quarterback taking significant heat, more injuries than I care to type out and their head coach retiring with five games remaining on the schedule. What do we think will happen today?
This week we allowed the staff to give their opinions and predictions for tonight's matchup with the #1/#3 team in the country.
Personally I think this is the absolute worst time of the season to be playing Ohio State. Perhaps you are aware that Ohio State won the national championship last season, entered the seasons ranked #1, beat everybody they have faced and were now voted upon to be the #3 team in the country. I do not enjoy facing a very talented team who is feeling disrespected. Secondly I think that this is the week the Gophers have a bit of a let down. I am of the belief that often (not always, but often) following a week of coming within inches of a huge upset, a team has a bad week. See what happened to Purdue after nearly upsetting Michigan State, then getting their asses kicked by Minnesota and then going out and putting up 55 on Nebraska. This is the week the Gophers feel a little sorry for themselves after losing their head coach, coming up just short at Michigan and knowing they are walking into face perhaps the most talented team in the country.
The result is going to be a decent sized loss for MInnesota, maybe within the 23 point spread but a big loss none the less.
But then my optimism kicks in, as it usually does on game days, and I think that maybe with a big play or two we could make a game of this. They can't stop our run game, Jones throws a couple picks and bam...we win this thing and Tracy Claeys earns the job with a 10-year contract.
But then reality sets in again.
SCORE: 10-28 Buckeyes
In a significant work bunker all week and had very little to say other than he is incredibly happy to be attending the game and sitting in great seats.
SCORE: Ohio State-points, Minnesota-less points
The Gophers keep it close early but struggle to score other than Santoso fgs. The buckeyes don't look unstoppable on offense but take advantage of enough big plays to put this away by the end of the third quarter.
Hopefully no new Gophers get hurt and they are ready to be a real threat in Kinnick next weekend.
SCORE: 16-34 Buckeyes
Cardale Jones has shown inconsistency this year. He's also not as much of a threat to run as JT Barrett would have been. That makes the Buckeye offense two-dimensional as oppose to three-dimensional. BBC and Murray are quality corners and when both are healthy, present a problem to even the elitest of defenses (see TCU game). I know 17 points seems like being slightly over confident but Ohio States defense hasn't been as consistent against average to above average competition and the Gophers offense appears to have caught a second-wind. The Gophers will cover the absurd spread but still lose by double digits.
SCORE: 17-30 Buckeyes
I would be surprised if the Gophers aren't competitive in this game. With that said, there is no indication that the Buckeyes should be on upset alert. Ohio State is the more talented team, and they've been able to take care of business up to this point in the season, even if it hasn't exactly been smooth sailing. I think the Minnesota offense continues to play well against a tough Ohio State defense, but the Buckeye offense gets the better of the Gopher defense in the end. Ezekiel Elliott will run for more than 100 yards and score at least one touchdown. The Gophers head back to Minneapolis with nothing to hang their heads about.
You can also read about IowaGopher's key matchups for tonight's game HERE
SCORE: 24-35 Buckeyes
There you have predictions from five of us. Give us your prediction below.
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