Saturday: Ohio State 30, Minnesota 14
Next game: at Purdue
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: West Lafayette, Indiana
TV: ABC (Ch. 6)
Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)
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Buckeyes’ win over Minnesota was no gem, despite 400-carat Haskins bling. But it beat the egg Georgia laid at LSU, so on to Purdue.
In the polls
Ohio State has a home-trained saboteur working on its behalf in the Southeastern Conference. Joe Burrow led Louisiana State to the upset of previous No.2 Georgia on Saturday, clearing the way for the Buckeyes to move to No.2 in both major polls on Sunday behind Alabama.
It’s getting repetitious, but the answer is Dwayne Haskins Jr., who turned up the heat a little more in the hottest passing start ever by an OSU quarterback. That his 412 yards passing marked the first time a Buckeye had topped 400 in two straight games was understood, since Art Schlichter was the only other ever to get into that realm in one game (record 458 against Florida State in 1981). With K.J. “stick it” Hill catching two of his three touchdowns throws, Haskins leads the nation in TD passes (28), is No.3 in passing yards (2,331) and Ohio State is No.3 in passing offense (371.4 yards per game), behind Washington State (413.7) and Texas Tech (373.3).
Who’s starting to steam?
Urban Meyer, who watched as the defense again played at a middling level, though it did gain three game-changing turnovers. The Buckeyes were without several regulars against Minnesota. Defensive end Jonathon Cooper and linebacker Malik Harrison were in concussion protocol; defensive tackle B.B. Landers and cornerback Damon Arnette played sparingly; and defensive end Nick Bosa is out until at least November. But seeing the aggressive defensive front seven parted time and again for Mohamed Ibrahim to gain 157 yards, and watching a steady diet of slant passes further the Golden Gophers’ cause did little for Meyer’s temperature.
What needs more steam?
The running game, which has become the weekly refrain. Defenses are jumping gaps and getting after the OSU offensive line, with Haskins being no run threat. The intent is to stop J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber — two former 1,000-plus yard rushers — in their tracks. Combined they netted a meager 86 yards on 23 carries (3.7 avg.) against the Golden Gophers, who gave up more than 300 in a loss to Maryland two games earlier. Meyer has challenged his beleaguered line to start cracking fronts, regardless.
In an effort no doubt to spread the defense and open the running gates, offensive coordinators Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson called 17 passes on the 25 first-down opportunities against Minnesota. Haskins was 10 of 15 on those plays, while getting sacked on two. The running game still sputtered.
Purdue, which lost its first three games by a combined eight points but has been full steam in dispatching Boston College, Nebraska and Illinois. OK, that’s no major mountain chain, but in the second year under Jeff Brohm, and in the hands of quarterback David Blough, Purdue has a chance because it can throw, sitting seventh nationally in passing (330.8-yard avg.).
This week’s challenge
Ohio State goes on the road for a third time, and for a third time it will be in prime time. In preseason, this was considered a pot-hole game for the Buckeyes, and with them now No.2 in the polls, the critiques become more refined.