The defending Big Ten champion Buckeyes have designs on repeating and they’re on track to do so after passing their biggest test so far, a 27-26 victory at Penn State in which they trailed by 12 points with seven minutes to play. Coach Urban Meyer was suspended for the season’s first three games for his handling of former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who was accused of domestic assault.
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On a team full of stars, none is shining brighter than QB Dwayne Haskins, pictured, a Heisman contender who leads the nation with 25 TD passes.
Gophers offense vs. Buckeyes defense
The Gophers scored 31 against an Iowa defense that ranks fourth nationally, but OSU’s D presents athletic challenges — especially on the line, home to Dre’Mont Jones (7.5 tackles for loss) and Chase Young (seven tackles for loss). True freshman right tackle Daniel Faalele, a 6-9, 400-pound Australian, makes his first start for the Gophers. Advantage: Ohio State
Gophers defense vs. Buckeyes offense
Ohio State averages 49 points per game, and the Gophers really miss Antoine Winfield Jr. Advantage: Ohio State
The Gophers might have the Big Ten’s best kicker in Emmit Carpenter, who has made eight of his nine field-goal attempts, including two from 50 yards or longer. In Big Ten play, the Buckeyes rank first in punting average and third in kickoff coverage. Advantage: Even
Maryland rushed for 315 yards against the Gophers, and Iowa QB Nate Stanley passed for 314. The D is hurting, and the Buckeyes know they can contend for a national title. That alone should be enough to keep them from overlooking the Gophers. Advantage: Ohio State
Ohio State 48, Gophers 14. The Gophers rely heavily on freshmen in key positions. Saturday will be a day of lessons learned.