By Mike Hendrickson
While they still won last week, Minnesota will look to have a better game against Ohio this Saturday than they did against Kent State in their last game. A full breakdown and score prediction can be seen below:
When Minnesota runs the ball:
Minnesota’s running game was one of their weakest parts against Kent State on Saturday. As a team, the Gophers averaged 2.4 yards per attempt and the longest run of the day came from quarterback Mitch Leidner. Ohio has a stiff running defense that sits at fourth in the Mid-American Conference and was third last year. The Gophers are coming in with a very questionable offensive line due to injuries, and may not find success on the ground because of it.
When Ohio runs the ball:
Sophomore A.J. Ouellette and senior Daz’mond Patterson lead the rushing attack for Ohio as the two combined have rushed for 321 yards in three games. Patterson has found success on less carries and may be seeing more action on Saturday as a result of it. Minnesota’s rushing defense has been average at this point, as they are 64th in the Football Bowl Subdivision, but the team has also faced better running teams than Ohio. The Gophers’ defensive line has also gotten stronger each game.
When Minnesota passes the ball:
This will be Leidner’s last game before conference play but he will have a tough time making it a good one. Ohio has a strong enough passing defense to keep the Gophers’ passing game at bay.
When Ohio passes the ball:
It should be easy for the Gophers passing defense to shut down most teams this season. Ohio’s quarterback Derrius Vick has been very good this season, passing for 548 yards on 49 passing attempts, but not as good as Minnesota’s secondary. Vick may find more success than other quarterbacks who have faced the Gophers this season, but Minnesota will likely not allow him to take over this game.
Other key factors:
Ohio’s kicking may actually make a big difference. They rank 120th in the nation in average yards per punt, and 123rd in field goal percentage. Giving good field position and missed kicks could lose the game for Ohio.
Minnesota 20, Ohio 14
Last week’s game showed that the Gophers’ will have a hard time scoring against anyone and Ohio should be no different. Once again, their defense should help a lot and keep this game close enough for the Gophers to win.