Week 12 Big Ten: Ohio State at Minnesota

    Ohio State (8-1) at Minnesota (7-2) Nov. 15, 12:00, ABC Here’s The Deal: There’s more at stake here than just a big win in the Big Ten, at this point,

    November 14, 2014

    Ohio State (8-1) at Minnesota (7-2) Nov. 15, 12:00, ABC 

    Here’s The Deal: There’s more at stake here than just a big win in the Big Ten, at this point, style points matter and appearances count. 

    What did the College Football Playoff committee think about Ohio State tremendous 49-37 win over Michigan State on the road? Not all that much, at least compared to big wins from TCU and Baylor. Now, ranked eighth, it might take some work and some prayers for the Buckeyes to get into the playoff, and winning out and taking the Big Ten championship might not be enough. TCU beat now-No. 25 Minnesota 30-7 way back in mid-September, and when each member of the committee has his or her iPad out and do the side-by-side comparison, yeah, they’ll notice what OSU does against Minnesota. With Indiana and Michigan remaining at home, everything is set up nicely for the improving Buckeyes to roll into the Big Ten title game, but all it’ll take is two wins out of the final three games to get there. They’re obviously shooting for more. 

    Minnesota might have gagged away the Illinois game a few weeks ago, but it has the puck on its stick for a chance at the Big Ten West title no matter what happens this weekend. The Gophers can lose by 100, and if they sweep the road tilt of Nebraska next week and Wisconsin to close, they might be facing OSU in a rematch in Indy. As is, this has been a good season for Jerry Kill’s Gophers, getting to seven wins and showing the potential for big things in the near future. However, the next three weeks are as nasty as they get in the Big Ten, and there’s a chance this could get really ugly. A win over the Buckeyes, though, would be something special and would take the program to a whole new level. 

    Why Ohio State Might Win: The Buckeye offense is an absolute machine right now, hitting 50 points or more in six of the last seven games since the Virginia Tech debacle, with the only gaffe the rough performance in the 31-24 double overtime win over Penn State. Most impressive has been the passing game that’s turned into the second most efficient in America, with two interceptions thrown against Penn State and none in five of the last six games. Explosive, the Buckeyes are averaging over nine yards per throw with 249 yards or more in six of the last seven games. Overall, the Minnesota pass defense has been great, but it hasn’t faced a dangerous passing game since TCU’s … 

    Why Minnesota Might Win: But the Gopher pass defense actually did a decent job, even though it allowed 258 yards and two touchdowns to the Horned Frogs. Minnesota will give up the short-range throws, but it doesn’t give up too many big plays and it’s only allowing teams to convert 56% of their passes. The biggest key to the game will be the running game – Minnesota’s is fantastic, and Ohio State showed it can get powered on giving up 358 yards to Michigan State and 224 to Penn State. The Buckeyes are at their best when they’re frothing at the mouth and getting into the backfield, but Minnesota has only allowed 12 sacks on the year and a paltry 47 tackles for loss. 

    Who To Watch Out For: Let’s put a stop to this right now – J.T. Barrett wasn’t the reason Ohio State lost to Virginia Tech. Yeah, he struggled completing 9-of-29 passes, but he spent the day dodging Hokies. Since then he has arguably been the best quarterback in college football, throwing efficiently and effectively, and dominating Michigan State last week with a 300-yard, three touchdown day while rushing for 86 yards and two touchdowns. With no real Heisman candidates available other than Marcus Mariota and Dak Prescott, there’s an opening for a seat in New York that the freshman could and should occupy if he keeps on producing like he has been. 

    What’s Going To Happen: This seems like a very, very dangerous trap game for Ohio State, but Minnesota is way too one dimensional. Ohio State only has to deal with the Gopher running game? It can do that, and while David Cobb and QB Mitch Leidner will have their rushing moments, they won’t be enough – the Buckeyes are rolling too well. 

    Prediction: Ohio State 45 … Minnesota 24 
    Line: Ohio State -12.5 o/u: 56.5 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Foxcatcher – 1: The Comeback … 3.5 

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