Ray Stein’s observations about Saturday's game:

The game at hand

• Short-attention-span synopsis: RBs: Nowhere to run. DBs: Nowhere to hide. Air Haskins to the rescue again. Is this 7-0 supposed to feel this bad? K.J. Hill, ladies and gentlemen, give him a hand!

• Pregame buzz: A week ago, Ohio State turned in a performance deemed unworthy of the nation’s third-ranked team for its inelegance in the running game on offense and incompetence in the passing game on defense. So the Buckeyes worked hard all week, came out against Minnesota … and laid the same two eggs. Hey, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they say.

• The $96 question: Faced with a noon start, cooler temperatures and a dynamic-pricing system that will climb the ladder until reaching the $1,000 (close enough) ceiling against Michigan, Ohio State fans did not exactly storm the gates to secure a seat in the Horseshoe for a game against Minnesota. In fact, in both end zones, Block O had more of a Block undercase u look — not quite filled in at the top. Those who came (announced at 100,000-plus, hmmm) were exposed to more dentist-drill football. No one ever said college football was supposed to be easy.

• Spread the wealth?: The gamblers who gave the Gophers and the points took another bath in hot, dirty water. This marks three straight games that OSU has failed to cover the spread. In fact, without the late touchdown pass to Hill, the Buckeyes would not have even reached the point total they were favored to win by (29 1/2).

• This week in vanity plates: GIMME A D

 

The View

• How the team sees it: It doesn’t matter if we’re struggling to run the ball and defend the pass as long as we’re undefeated. Right, coach? Coach?

• How the pollsters will see it: You may be ranked No. 2 now that Georgia has lost, but there’s a hell of a gulf separating you and Alabama.

• How Buckeye Nation sees it: With Dwayne Haskins Jr. and these receivers, anything is possible. But can they teach our DBs how to defend a slant?

 

Urban Dictionary

• What he said: “Short yardage is not a strength. Red zone is not a strength. Running the ball is not a strength.”

• What it means: “But my quarterback? Now that’s a strong cup of coffee. But I’m not bitter about how some of the others are playing — yet.”

 

They said it

• Your turn/the channel: The irrepressible Gus Johnson made his Ohio State season debut as play-by-play man for Fox’s lead team that also includes spot-on analyst Joel Klatt. Johnson’s presence meant that a portion of the audience tuning in to FS1 (did you find it on your TV dial, Buckeye Nation?) was going to be automatically turned off by Johnson’s tendency to keep it turned up to 11. For the most part, though, he was fairly tame, at least by his standards. Maybe it was the weather; cameras spied him wearing a scarf and stocking cap, like the game was played in Antarctica.

 

Numbers for dummies

23: Average starting position, by yard line, for Minnesota on its first four drives

1.75: Average number of plays it took the Gophers to cross midfield on those four drives

29: First downs by Ohio State

6: First downs by rushing for OSU

1: 400-yard passing games by Ohio State quarterbacks from 1890 through Sept. 29, 2018

2: 400-yard passing games by Dwayne Haskins Jr. the past two weeks

66: Point differential for Ohio State in the fourth quarter this season (79-13)

 

On tap

Maybe the last thing Ohio State fans want to see is their team play an opponent that is historically expert at passing the ball, not to mention one that has pulled a few October surprises on the Buckeyes over the years. But that ship sits dead ahead, captain, and it’s a night game, to boot, so the north-central Indiana crowd will be jacked in anticipation. If the Boilermakers can pull the upset, those engineers will be really excited, like the time they solved that hard math problem.

 

Tweethearts

Best responses to the game on Twitter:

@illstr8r: It’s frustrating when the #Buckeyes play down to their competition. Today. Is. One. Of. Those. Days.

@CGCOP45: We aren’t Who we thought We were!

@marshotel72: Minnesota invented a new, unstoppable offensive play today. They call it the “Slant.” Apparently the #Buckeyes are asking the NCAA if we can use an extra defender called a “Linebacker” on defense as a result. Fingers crossed.

@DfoutsFouts: can we get the #savethecrew people on the #savethedefense campaign?

@R_A_Lash: This Gopher offense making us look like we have a defense filled with Carl Spacklers

@kchudson34: Hey P.J. Fleck thought I’d help with directions home. Take the Olentangy south to Scioto. Scioto south to Ohio. Ohio west to Mississippi and turn right. #rowtheboat

@NerfHoopDreams: I’ll say it — they were better when Meyer was suspended.

@dmhenwood (after 1968 team was recognized): Any linebackers with eligibility?

 

Horseshoe haiku

How long can Buckeyes

Impersonate the team of

10,000 Mistakes?

rstein@dispatch.com