OK, assume the position. Stand up. Spread your legs about 2 1/2 feet apart. Bend forward, placing your hands on your knees. Stare down to the ground with nuclear intensity. Sigh heavily. You are now ready to coach the No. 3 football team in the country. Enjoy! Leaves are awarded on a zero-to-five basis. — Ray Stein
It’s an 11-player unit, of course, but not all deserve pats on the head. The passing game with Dwayne Haskins and K.J. Stick-em, sure. The running game, though, is about as effective as a one-legged ladder. And some members of the offensive line handle pass rushers the way toreadors deal with charging oxen. Ole!
For the glass-half-full crowd, there is this: OSU held Minnesota scoreless after halftime and finally got around to defending slant passes in the fourth quarter. But to the other 98 percent of Buckeye Nation, there is no excuse for seeing a walk-on QB and a freshman running back shred the Buckeyes with the most basic of plays.
Special teams (4)
With 12 points on three field goals and three PATs, Blake Haubeil earned man of the hour for stepping in when Sean Nuernberger pulled up lame in warmups. The Gophers would have liked such kicking-category production. Punter Drew Chrisman didn’t break a sweat but drew raves for one downed at the 1.
It’s not like the burrs under Ohio State’s saddles are exotics in any way; for the most part, the Buckeyes are losing battles at the line of scrimmage when they try (and fail) to run, and their back seven is a study in frustration — for fans if not the coaching staff. But it’s all fixable, right? Right?
Fall arrived in Ohio Stadium, finally, but the sounds of teeth-gnashing from the stands are pretty much the same if the temperature is 85 or 55 degrees. Even with the pushback from an unexpectedly rowdy bunch of Gophers, there were plenty of cool moments, the one-handed grab by K.J. Hill topping the list.
P.J. Fleck has a little P.T. Barnum in him — the row-the-boat mantra, the wind sprints with his team — but he had his players enjoying the upstream trip more than many nervous Buckeyes. With a little luck, a little more depth and a better kicker, Minnesota might have pulled a Paul Bunyan-sized upset.
The men wearing stripes had trouble all day with spots, none more obvious than when the officials gave Mike Weber 3 yards on a fourth-and-2 dive that actually traveled 1 1/2 yards. Next play: OSU touchdown. Beyond that, referee Jerry McGinn had, you know, some, um, trouble, if that’s the word, articulating, um, some calls.