Buckeyes Go Full Ohio State in 2nd Half to Drown Gophers in Their Own Mistakes

Photo: @OhioStateFB – Twitter

Dinkytown was buzzing on Thursday afternoon, as vehicles packed with party supplies slowly started to fill up campus parking lots and kegs were tapped across town. By 6 PM, the student section inside of Huntington Bank Stadium was filling up too and it had spread to the upper-deck by 6:30. The gameday atmosphere for Minnesota vs Ohio State felt right but, at the end of the night, football is what the two clubs would be judged on.

PJ Fleck’s team got the ball first, waving for a fair catch at the 8-yd-line before sending out their offense. It was clear that the Gophers would be able to move the ball on the ground, early, but after their first two drives stalled out near midfield, the questions turned to Tanner Morgan. Would he be able to complete passes when needed?

Risky business pays off early

Ohio State took a 10-0 lead, thanks to a 75-yard touchdown run by Ohio State’s Miyan Williams, before Minnesota got the ball back for a third time. And with another turnover on downs staring them in the face, PJ Fleck decided to go for it on 4th and 1, down 10 points, from the Gophers’ own 30 yard line.

The risk paid off when Mohamed Ibrahim broke off a 56-yard run on the play, pushing Minnesota from down and out, into the red zone. Then finally, Morgan got his shot. After a failed run play on first down, Tanner took the snap, turned to his left, and fired a perfect ball over the head of the OSU defensive back and directly into the hands of Texas A&M transfer, Dylan Wright. Just like that, it was 10-7.

More Mo Ibrahim

Tanner Morgan may have connected with Dylan Wright for the Gophers’ first touchdown of the game, but the first 2.5 quarters belonged to Mohamed Ibrahim, who scored Minnesota’s second touchdown of the game just before halftime. Five minutes into the 3rd quarter, he did it again, putting the Gophers up 21-17..

Mo’s second TD didn’t come without some controversy, however. Just before he ran that ball into the end zone, Tanner Morgan threw out of play action, right to an Ohio State defender, who returned it all the way into the Buckeye red zone. But, they were called for roughing Morgan on the play, which kept the ball with Minnesota and eventually led to that aforementioned Ibrahim touchdown.

Unfortunately, shortly after this run, Mo came up limp with what looks like a serious Achilles Tendon injury.

Buckeyes Punches Too Much for Gophers

Ohio State is known for putting up points in bunches. Halfway through the 3rd quarter, they showed why, putting up 14 points in a matter of three minutes, when CJ Stroud hit Garret Wilson on a 56 yard touchdown and then Haskell Garrett returned a Tanner Morgan sack/fumble for a touchdown. Just like that, the Buckeyes were up, 31-21 and the Gophers were on their heels.

Minnesota showed fight and they tried to battle back but they couldn’t keep up with Ohio State once they got their footing. Before you knew it, the OSU lead had been stretched to 45-31 and, outside of some questionable calls (or no-calls) by the referees, the fight was over.

Gophers Killed Themselves

While Ohio State certainly flexed its muscles throughout moments of this game, Minnesota has nobody to blame for the loss, but themselves. They had opportunities to go up by double digits early in the 2nd half, when they had all of the momentum, and failed to capitalize.

Penalties also killed the Gophers, which isn’t usually part of their story. Tonight, they needed to play a clean game and they failed to do so, committing five crucial penalties (that cost them 50 yards of offense) and two huge turnovers, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

Minnesota’s next opponent will also be from the state of Ohio, but shouldn’t bring the same type of punch. We’ll see if the Gophers can fair better against Miami (OH) next weekend. For now, they’re 0-1 (0-1).

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan