Before every game, I ask a reporter who covers the Gophers upcoming opponent to give us a view from the opponent’s perspective.
I asked Ryan Stano from Scarlet & Game of the FanSided network six questions about the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Minnesota travels to Columbus to take on Ohio State on November 19th, this will be the 55th meeting between the two programs.
Huge thanks to Ryan for giving us his thoughts!
Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rastano19
Follow Noel on Twitter: @N0elthompson
1. The Ohio State Buckeyes were one play away from getting into the College Football Championship game last year when they lost to Georgia 42-41 in the Peach Bowl. It is now year five under Ryan Day, as he entered this year with an insane overall record of 45-6. You don’t have to tell Buckeye fans that two of those losses have come from Michigan in the last two years. Those two losses to the Wolverines are the only defeats he has had in Big Ten play. What were the expectations of this team entering the 2023 season? In your opinion, are they meeting these expectations so far, and would this season be considered a failure if they lost to the Wolverines for the third straight year?
The expectations are the same every year at Ohio State; a national championship. Anything less is a failure. Ohio State has three goals every year: Beating Michigan, win the Big Ten, and win a national title. Clearly, they have fallen short of those expectations in the last two seasons. Now with what we know about the Michigan cheating scandal, the losses the last two season could be explained away. If they lose again this year, it’s catastrophic because there are no more excuses. It very well could cost Ryan Day his job.
2. Last year’s quarterback, C.J. Stroud, got selected second overall in the NFL draft and is having quite the season for the Texans. Now enters Kyle McCord. The junior has thrown for 2,687 yards with 20 touchdowns and four interceptions. How would you grade McCord’s season so far? Is there anything he could improve on before the big game next week?
Not everyone can be C.J. Stroud. He was great. Kyle McCord is good, not great. The Buckeyes may not need him to be great though. Ohio State’s defense is elite, which is a big difference from the last three seasons. They just need him to not turn the ball over and get it to Marvin Harrison Jr. The running game and the defense will take care of the rest. If there’s one thing he needs to improve, it’s hitting guys more in stride. He’s had some throws in the past could pf weeks that are behind his receivers that have resulted in drops and interceptions.
3. The Buckeyes currently have the best passing offense in the Big Ten; they are averaging 290 yards per game in the air. No doubt, having a wideout like Marvin Harrison Jr. to throw it to makes things a lot easier. What makes Harrison Jr. so special? Where do you think he ranks all time when it comes to Ohio State receivers?
Marvin is the reason they have that ranking. He’s doing all of that with a quarterback who isn’t elite. Part of what makes him great is his genes obviously. Having a Hall of Fame dad is never a bad thing. His dad was my favorite athlete of all-time and he has a similar work ethic to his father. He works tirelessly at becoming better and stays late after practice to get extra work in. He might be the greatest Buckeye receiver I’ve seen since I became a fan back in 2001. If he has a big game against Michigan, he could be considered the greatest ever.
4. Ohio State enters this Saturday with one of the best defenses in the Big Ten and country. In the Big Ten, they are second (9.9) in points against, fifth (112.4) against the run, second (149.8) against the pass, and third (262.2) in yards allowed. Who are your impact players on defense that Minnesota fans should know about?
Unfortunately, most of Ohio State’s impact players might be held out of the Minnesota game due to injury. Tommy Eichenberg is the best linebacker on the team. He leads the team in tackles with 73. Lathan Ransom, Ohio State’s best safety, is out the rest of the regular season. Of the ones who will play on Saturday, keep an eye on Denzel Burke and J.T. Tuimoloau. Burke is a shutdown corner that has played at an All-American level when he’s been out there, but he’s missed a couple of games due to injury. JTT is the team’s best pass rusher and has four sacks so far this year.
5. It feels like it would be irresponsible of me not to bring up what’s going on in Ann Arbor. Last week, the Big Ten Conference suspended Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh for the final three games of the regular season due to an elaborate sign-stealing scheme. Harbaugh will miss the game against Ohio State on November 25th. It sure seems like this won’t end anytime soon, and it appears to be a lot of finger-pointing. What’s the atmosphere like in Columbus with all of this happening? What is your take on it?
Ohio State fans think that Harbaugh cheated in each of the last two matchups against the Buckeyes, and they’re right. They believe that’s the only reason why Ohio State lost those games. Next Saturday will give us the definitive answer because all signs have been changed. Harbaugh will likely have a temporary restraining order granted to coach for that game, so there will be no excuses. In my eyes, if the Buckeyes win that game in Ann Arbor, then Harbaugh cheated the last two seasons because he couldn’t beat Ohio State and was about to lose his job for it. If the Buckeyes lose, Harbaugh still cheated the last two seasons because he couldn’t beat Ohio State, but his team was talented enough that they didn’t have to do that. Either way, this is his last year with the program in my view and wins will be vacated. How many is still hard to say. There are plenty of other unsubstantiated rumors that I’ve been told about as well that don’t sound good for the Wolverines. But we’ll wait for the NCAA investigation to come out before we say anything about those.
6. The series between the Gophers and Buckeyes is about as one-sided as they come. Minnesota has only won seven times out of 54 games between the two programs. The last time Minnesota beat Ohio State was in Columbus 23 years ago. Ohio State has won the last 12 games against the Gophers. Minnesota travels to Columbus this Saturday as a 27-point underdog and is in need of a win to become bowl-eligible. What is your prediction for the game, and do you think Minnesota covers the point spread?
I don’t think Minnesota is a bad football team but they just don’t have the talent to compete with Ohio State. The Buckeyes are treating this game as a way to fine-tune themselves one more week before The Game. I expect a lot of passing from the Buckeyes early. If the Golden Gophers can’t stop Marvin Harrison Jr. early, it’s going to be a long game. I do expect the Buckeyes to cover. Give me the Buckeyes 35-6.