I circled the Minnesota game as a potential trap game in August. I was thinking about that even before the Michigan State game was moved to a night affair, and that loss of preparation time led me to pick the upset in our preseason predictions for Buckeye Sports Bulletin and here on the blog.
A mental letdown is also natural coming off such an emotional win against the Spartans, and in the summer it was easy to see the Buckeyes having a hard time getting up for a nondescript Minnesota team almost 50 years removed from its last Big Ten championship.
The Golden Gophers at 7-2 and coming off a thrashing of Iowa are too good to call this a trap game, though. I do believe they will have the Buckeyes’ attention, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be an upset.
Heading into last week, I felt pretty confident Ohio State had better players than Michigan State, but I was not at all sure they were ready mentally to utilize that skill. The first 25 minutes or so of game action validated this belief, but then they righted themselves and turned on the afterburners.
That response — and an even greater talent disparity — makes me think the Buckeyes will take care of business in Minneapolis, but there is certainly a path to victory for Minnesota.
The Golden Gophers dominated Iowa with the help of turnovers, and such miscues were part of their undoing in an upset at Illinois. If they can come out ahead in this department and hit some shots in play action (although Ohio State is curiously enough 2-0 when losing the turnover battle this season), they have a formidable running attack and defense that can shorten the game.
Here’s my full scouting report at BuckeyeSports.com.