Mascot: Golden Gophers
Stadium: TCF Bank Stadium (50,000)
2008 Record: 7-6 (Lost to Kansas 42-21 in Insight Bowl)
2009 Record: 4-3
Head Coach: Tim Brewster (3rd year at Minnesota, 12-20)
Letterman Returning: 54 (21 Lost)
Returning Starters: Offense - 9, Defense - 8, Specialists - 0
Base Defense: 4-3
Base Offense: Ace (3 Wideouts)
Returning Stars: QB Adam Weber, WR Eric Decker (pictured)
Bob Dylan - Singer/Songwriter
Hubert H. Humphrey - Former U.S. Vice President
Jessica Lange - Actress
Tony Dungy - NFL Player and Coach
Tom Lehman - PGA Golfer
Dave Winfield - MLB Hall of Famer
Kevin McHale - NBA Player
Yanni - Grammy-nominated pianist and composer
Cheerleading Scouting Report:
Tim Brewster and company head into Columbus this Saturday, coming off a crushing 20-0 defeat at Penn State. Much like the Buckeyes on the other side of the ball, the Gophers are trying to get themselves established on the offensive. Against Penn State they would only put up 138 total yards, and really struggled trying to get the running game going. This has been a trend all year for Brewster's squad, and the offense has not looked sharp in the team's biggest games. In fact, they are being outgained on the ground and through the air by their opponents. Not a very positive sign for a winning team.
One of the main reasons Weber can make you pay is because of star wideout Eric Decker. He put up huge campaigns in his sophomore and junior seasons, and is on track to have his best year yet with 731 yards and five touchdowns. He has solid size at 6-2 215 pounds, and catches almost anything Weber throws his way. Joining Decker in the wide receiving core are Troy Stoudermire (126 yards, 1 TD) and Brandon Green (140 yards, 0 TD). Also the Buckeyes will have to watch Nick Tow-Arnett at tight end, who has 16 catches for 216 yards on the season.
The backfield has not been near as productive as the wide receiving core, as not one running back is even averaging 50 yards a game. The starter is sophomore Duane Bennett who has 292 yards and five touchdowns on the season, averaging 4.4 a carry. The Gophers will split his carries with fellow sophomore DeLeon Eskridge who has 212 yards and three touchdowns (4.1 a carry). Despite decent averages, both have been incredibly quiet in the team's biggest games. Besides these two the Buckeyes will also see freshmen quarterback MarQueis Gray attempting to run the ball. He has made an appearance in all seven games, and provides an athletic running option at quarterback. He has only attempted one pass on the season though, which is one of the reasons he has yet to have greater success making big plays.
The Gopher defense has had its fair share of problems as well. Their opponents are averaging 393 yards a game against them, and have an incredible 51% 3rd down percentage. Last week despite only giving up 20 points to Penn State, they were gashed for 464 yards.
The leader of the defense is senior middle linebacker Lee Campbell, who has 77 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and one interception. He is big at 6-3 246 pounds, and is very physical coming up to stop the run. He is joined by two other seniors in the linebacking core, Nate Triplett (71 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 INT) and Simoni Lawrence (54 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 sack). This unit is by far the strength in a very average defense, helping to keep opponents under four yards a carry.
It is surprising that the Gophers have struggled so much on defense, especially considering the experience they have. Three of the four starters on the line are seniors, and in the secondary has two junior safeties alongside two senior corners. The defensive line hasn't really seen anyone step up to become a consistent pass rusher though, and the secondary has been gashed a lot. Still there are a few names to watch in safety Kyle Theret (45 tackles) and corner Marcus Sherels, who has recorded nine tackles in each of the last two games.
This game features two teams struggling trying to find out their identity, and have consistency week in and week out. The major difference between the two is the defensive side of the ball, where the Buckeye will have the major advantage. Like last week for Minnesota, it seems pretty unlikely that they will run the ball on a consistent basis. Their offensive line has under performed, and they are playing a very strong front seven for the Buckeyes. This means the game will yet again rest on the shoulders of quarterback Adam Weber. This will be nothing new for for Weber, as he has been asked to be the difference maker in each of the team's biggest games. Thus far though, Weber hasn't been able to help the Gophers get over the hump. Interceptions and turnovers have plagued him and the team, and on top of that, they are racking up 48 yards a game in penalties. If they plan on moving the ball against an angry Buckeye defense, they cannot shoot themselves in the foot.
When the Buckeyes have the ball on offense, everyone knows all eyes will be on Terrelle Pryor. The media has beat him up all week, and it will be easy for him to press (even though he says he won't). Whether Pryor settles into this game really will be the story of the final outcome. At least on paper the Gophers don't demand much respect, and it doesn't seem they have the defensive firepower to stop Pryor. Honestly much like the Purdue game, only Pryor will stop Pryor. Also, Tressel always makes bigger changes coming off of a loss. Look for an increase in running plays for Pryor, and also for Brandon Saine. The complaints all week have been that the Buckeyes have no offensive identity, and Tressel will most likely going back to the ground to gain some consistency again.
Overall, an angry and focused Buckeye team wins this game a home. It seems highly unlikely that the offensive will come out and look sharp, even though the desire will be there, but they will take a step in the right direction. There will still be sloppy elements in the game plan and execution, but the Buckeyes will move the ball and score. Minnesota is getting outscored by its opponents 90 to 72 in the first half, and Saturday will add to that margin. Minnesota may put together a few drives in the second half, but it will not be enough to beat the Buckeyes.
Father vs. Son Prediction Battle:
Dave: OSU 27-13
Drew: OSU 24-7