After easily dispatching Michigan State on Saturday, Ohio State (10-0) gets one more home contest to fine tune itself before the highly anticipated season finale in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes will take on Minnesota this coming weekend, with the Golden Gophers (5-5) not quite living up to expectations this year. P.J. Fleck’s squad is riding a two-game losing streak, and needs to find a way to win one of its final two games to reach bowl eligibility, but things won’t get any easier for Minnesota in Columbus.
All lines courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Spread: Ohio State -27.5
Ohio State’s offense had one of its best performances of the season against Michigan State on Saturday. The Buckeyes racked up 530 yards of total offense, and that was with the starters coming out in the third quarter and few pass attempts in the second half overall. Kyle McCord had his best game of the season, throwing for a career-high 335 yards and three touchdowns, while Marvin Harrison Jr. bolstered his Heisman campaign with 149 yards receiving and three total TDs. TreVeyon Henderson had an efficient day on the ground, averaging nearly five yards per carry and adding a rushing TD, while Cade Stover had a big game in his return from injury with 79 yards and a score.
Despite Ohio State playing without both of its starting safeties and its top linebacker, the Buckeyes held Michigan State to just 182 total yards — 88 passing and 92 rushing. Spartans QB Katin Houser couldn’t get much going, completing only 50% of his passes (12-of-24) for 92 yards. No MSU receiver totaled more than 23 yards in the game, while as a team Michigan State converted on just 2-of-14 third down attempts. It wasn’t a huge day for havoc plays by the Silver Bullets, but they did manage six tackles for loss and two sacks, one each by Tyleik Williams and Sonny Styles.
Minnesota’s offense, led by quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis, was projected to be one of the better units in the Big Ten. It has not worked out that way, as the Gophers’ 22.5 points per game rank 101st in FBS. Kaliakmanis has not had the greatest season at the helm, completing just over 50% of his passes for 1,582 yards with 13 TDs and seven INTs across 10 games. The return of Chris Autman-Bell was highly anticipated, but the senior wideout has just 81 yards and one TD on the year. Running back Darius Taylor and receiver Daniel Jackson had been the stars of the unit, but Taylor has missed the last three games with an injury. Still, Jackson’s 681 yards and seven TDs are good for third-best in the Big Ten.
The Golden Gophers defense has been better than their offense, but not by a ton. Allowing 25.8 points per game, Minnesota ranks 63rd nationally and 10th in the B1G. They do, however, rank third in the conference with 11 interceptions, led by Tyler Nubin’s four. The unit overall has been led by linebacker Maverick Baranowski, who has a team-high 52 total tackles on the year, while defensive lineman Danny Striggow has been the star up front, leading the group with seven tackles for loss and six sacks. Minnesota’s defense has been largely fine overall, but they’ve had a handful of really poor performances, including 37 points allowed to Northwestern, 52 against Michigan and 49 against Purdue in its last time out.
This game should look a lot like Ohio State’s game against Michigan State — although the Buckeyes will not be in grey jerseys for this one. Ryan Day will be looking to see his offense continue to take strides forward, and while Jim Knowles will be hoping to get some of his starters back on defense, it also wouldn’t hurt to rest some guys so that they are 100% healthy for the Michigan game. Minnesota’s offense is going to have a hard time moving the ball against a stout Ohio State defense — fully healthy or not — and the Gophers likely won’t have many answers for TreVeyon Henderson and Marvin Harrison Jr. on the other side.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.