Buckeyes turn sights to Minnesota
Most cliches are rooted in some truth, so Urban Meyer acknowledged he is concerned about how Ohio State will follow up winning the biggest game of the season so far.
The Buckeyes, who beat Michigan State 49-37 Saturday night to take hold of the Big Ten East divisional race and put themselves back in the discussion for the College Football Playoff, will take on Minnesota at noon Eastern this Saturday.
After one winning season from 2006-2012, the Golden Gophers have already clinched their third in a row under head coach Jerry Kill. They improved to 7-2 with a 51-14 thrashing of Iowa last week to claim the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy and remain in a three-way tie with Nebraska and Wisconsin atop the Big Ten West.
The Golden Gophers are too good for this to be labeled a trap game, but Ohio State could be susceptible to a letdown after such an emotionally charged victory.
Meyer called Kill a long-time friend but noted he has never coached against him before. The Buckeyes and Gophers last faced each other in 2010, a 52-10 Ohio State victory that included a coaching matchup of interim coach Jeff Horton facing Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes.
"It’s everything you’d think of a Jerry Kill coached team — relentless effort, very well coached. I haven’t studied their offense yet, but special teams and defense are very good. Statistically, they’re very good, and to do that to Iowa, who I think Iowa is a heck of a team, they’ve got some momentum right now."
The Buckeyes took some time to savor their victory over the Spartans, who denied them the Big Ten title last season, but must turn the page quickly. They will have less time than usual to prepare for the Gophers after having gotten home early Sunday morning.
"They have eight hours on us," Meyer said. "We have to get those eight hours back. We cut practice way down yesterday. We gave them a 10:00 curfew. We have no school on Tuesday. There will be another curfew tonight. That’s how we catch up. It’s very important [when] you’re dealing with 18â, 19â, 20âyearâolds — they need direction. This is a noon kickoff and we got in at 3:30."
Meyer had high praise for his offense after the Buckeyes throttled a vaunted Michigan State defense on national television Saturday night. Ohio State posted MSU opponent season highs in points, rushing yards (268) and total yards (568).
He identified six offensive players as grading out at a "champion" level — receivers Evan Spencer, Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall, tight end Jeff Heuerman and offensive linemen Billy Price and Pat Elflein — with four players sharing offensive player of the game honors — center Jacoby Boren, quarterback J.T. Barrett, running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Devin Smith.
"It’s our best performance that we’ve had since we’ve been here," Meyer said. "It’s very balanced. What I always like to do is obviously statistically I think we probably had more yards against other teams, but that was against a legitimate top five defense in America and a bunch of NFL players on that defense. And it was very well executed."