Ohio State Football: Buckeyes Welcome Golden Gophers in Final Game in the Shoe

Photo Credit: Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY Network
Ohio State RB TreVeyon Henderson | Photo Credit: Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY Network

Ohio State hosts Minnesota in the final home game of the regular season ahead of The Game next week.

The Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten) welcome the Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-5, 3-4 Big Ten) to The Shoe at 4 pm Saturday in their final home game for the 2023 season. With just one game for the Buckeyes ahead of their biggest game of the year, they will look to remain confident and healthy in this final home matchup.

Minnesota started the year 2-0 and suffered their first loss to the then-No.20 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels 31-13 on the road. They then suffered a tough loss 37-34 to divisional opponent Northwestern in their first conference game. They responded with a non-conference win but then received a beatdown from TTUN 52-10.

After starting 3-3, the Golden Gophers rattled off back-to-back wins, one on the road over No.24 Iowa, then a 15-point win at home against Michigan State. They have struggled since, dropping a home game to Illinois and giving up 49 on the road to Purdue.

Minnesota is led on offense by Sophomore quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis. In his second year with the program, he completed just 52.2 percent of his passes, for 1,582 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the year. His favorite target on the year has been Senior wideout Daniel Jackson.

Jackson is having his best season yet with 45 catches, 681 yards, and seven touchdowns through the air. The Golden Gopher ground game is powered by Freshman Darius Taylor. Taylor has run for 591 yards on the year with an impressive 5.7 yards per carry and has added four touchdowns.

The defense is led by Freshman linebacker Maverick Baranowski and Senior defensive back Tyler Nubin. Baranowski leads the team with 52 tackles with Nubin snagging a team-high four interceptions. The Gophers are averaging 22.5 points per game and are rushing for more yards than they pass for with an average of 160.4 rushing yards per game.

The Buckeyes remained undefeated and improved to 10-0 with a blowout win against the Michigan State Spartans last week. Junior quarterback Kyle McCord continues to improve and has completed 66.6 percent of his throws for a total of 2,687 yards on the year. He has 20 passing touchdowns and just four interceptions and has been sacked just 14 times through 10 games.

Junior wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. continues to be the best player in the country and has totaled 59 receptions, 1,063 receiving yards, and 12 receiving touchdowns on the season. Senior tight end Cade Stover has also been one of the best at his position, and is second on the team in catches (34), receiving yards (508), and receiving touchdowns (4). Junior wideout Emeka Egbuka is working his way back after an injury and has 27 catches, 344 yards, and three scores.

Junior running back TreVeyon Henderson seems to be playing his best games as a Buckeye with every coming week. He has 648 rushing yards this year and a 6.3 yards per carry average. He has eight rushing touchdowns and has had some success in the passing game with 14 receptions and 184 yards. Senior running back Chip Trayanum has been a great backup option behind Henderson and has 311 rushing yards and three scores thus far.

The Buckeyes offense is averaging 33.3 points per game, throwing for 290.2 passing yards per game, and gaining 138.6 rushing yards per game. The Silver Bullets on defense are fourth in the country, giving up just 262.2 yards per game. They have given up just 4.04 yards per play and 10 offensive touchdowns throughout ten games.

The spread for the game has Ohio State as a 27.5-point favorite, with the over/under set at 49.5. It can be expected this game will go similarly to the last game, with the offense and defense both starting hot and coasting to a win. Remaining healthy and improving along the offensive line and running game can be tasked to work on ahead of the rivalry matchup next weekend.

Prediction: Ohio State 41 Minnesota 10