The most challenging opponent of the season is the week 1 opponent. Can the Gophers feed off the first home crowd since 2019 and pull off what would likely be the upset of the week? It is possible here are 3 keys to it happening.
- Win the line of scrimmage - On both sides. The Ohio State interior offensive line is relatively inexperienced while the Gopher interior defensive line is a perceived strength. The Minnesota offensive line is one of the best in the league, they need to prove it right away. Owning the line of scrimmage is absolutely imperative if they want to have a chance to win tonight.
- Poor OSU quarterback play - This may could be that the Gophers consistently get pressure on Stroud. Or perhaps he just struggles on his own in his first Big Ten start replacing Justin Fields. I really do not see the Gophers slowing the elite Buckeye receivers, but mistakes at quarterback will negate that advantage.
- Run the ball, all night long - Somewhat related to the first point, but the Gophers need to be able to run the ball effectively. This takes pressure off the receivers who appear iffy at this point and it controls the time of possession. But when the running game is strong, the Gophers are very capable of hitting on some big pass plays. But it all starts with the run.
OPPOSING PLAYERS TO WATCH
- #5 & #2 WR - Garret Wilson & Chris Olave - Both are likely 1st round draft picks next spring and are going to be a significand challenge for the Gopher secondary. Coney Durr and Terell Smith have experience battling Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson over the past couple years, but this will be huge task for them today.
- #92 DT - Haskell Garrett - The heart of the Buckeye front seven and will be an early draft pick next year. Best of luck to the Gopher interior OL.
This will have to go very right for the Gophers to pull this one off. I care much more about the entirety of the season than I do this particular game. I want to see competence and remaining competitive in this game. Then I want to see the mistakes corrected and the team gets stronger. But history tells me that the Gophers, under Fleck, start slowly before getting stronger throughout the season.
Can they control the line of scrimmage? I think so. Can they run the ball? They should be able to. Will Stroud struggle? Maybe? But they’ll need to win turnovers, not screw up on special teams and hope that Ohio State struggles a little.
I’m saying we lose, but stay within the 14 point spread.
Minnesota - 24
Ohio State - 34