We got a taste of college football with a thrilling Week 0 slate of games, now things get going with another early season Big Ten matchup. That’s just fine with the Ohio State Buckeyes, who put their 22-game conference winning streak on the line against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Thursday.
It’s a new era for the Buckeyes but the expectations remain the same, and why not? They haven’t slowed down under Ryan Day and they are once again loaded for run at a fifth straight Big Ten crown.
The game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Minnesota Golden Gophers will take place at TCF Bank Stadium at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 2, and will be televised on FOX.
Ohio State Buckeyes vs Minnesota Golden Gophers
Ohio State Buckeyes -13.5 | Minnesota Golden Gophers +13.5 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 64.5 [BET NOW]
(Odds provided by BookMaker.eu as of 8:35 am ET)
Being a double-digit favorite is nothing new for the Buckeyes. They opened at -14 with the number wagered down slightly to -13.5. OSU has been favored by two touchdowns or more in 15 of its past 17 Big Ten games going 11-6 ATS in that span. And as with most of the opponents in the conference, the Buckeyes have a long history of success against Minnesota. They haven’t lost to the Gophers since the 2000 season winning 11 straight since while going 6-5 ATS. The teams cashed the UNDER in each of the last three get-togethers.
The momentum the Gophers built off their 11-win 2019 season was wiped away last season. They ended the year 3-4 with a pair of overtime losses adding to the misery. Things should be different with a bunch of familiar faces back on the field and I expect they’ll give the Buckeyes a good game. They covered 10 of their last 14 games when catching points, including the final three games last season. And they are 3-0 ATS against Ohio State in the past three meetings.
Ohio State Buckeyes
The big question during the offseason was who replaces Justin Fields. Fields was the only player to attempt a pass last season so there is some concern about the position. No QB on the roster has attempted a pass at this level and it really was a competition for the job. But C.J. Stroud emerged from the group beating out Jack Miller, Kyle McCord and Quinn Ewers for the job. At least Stroud has some game experience doing mop up duty last year. That might be the only issue with the team and it isn’t even that big of a deal since all four QBs can play. And whoever is behind center has talented play makers and a veteran offensive line to work with.
I don’t expect the passing game to be featured prominently in the opener especially since the Buckeyes can run the football. Why put your QB in a compromising spot unless you absolutely have to. OSU will run behind their mammoth offensive line churning out yards and burning the clock. Most of the defensive line and secondary are back for another go, but shoring up the pass defense is a key. The only weakness last year was allowing 304 yards through the air. The experience should help and that’s another reason to consider the UNDER.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
If anything the Gophers will have one of the more experienced teams in the Big Ten and college football. That doesn’t always translate to success in the win/loss column, but it goes a long way toward helping out. And while the Buckeyes had a QB competition this spring there was no such problem at Minnesota. The team needs Tanner Morgan to play like he did in 2019 when he led them to an 11-2 record. Things took a step back last year in the wacky COVID season. Morgan didn’t play poorly throwing for 1,374 yards, but the completion percentage plummeted to 57.9. And he should challenge an OSU secondary that struggled last year.
Finding a balance on offense isn’t tough with Mo Ibrahim back running the ball. The workhorse toted the rock 201 times in seven games last year compiling 1,076 yards and 15 touchdowns. We should also see Treyson Potts and Cam Riley more in the ground game. They each averaged over six yards per carry and work behind a strong offensive line. The defense didn’t help last season getting gouged against the run, not pressuring the quarterback and not creating takeaways. Nearly all starters are back, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.
Ohio State at Minnesota Prediction
Our picks: Minnesota Golden Gophers +13.5 / UNDER 64.5
With an experienced roster the Gophers might sneak up on a few teams this season. And they get the Buckeyes right out of the chute which could be an advantage. The QB situation is far from settled in Columbus, but handing the ball off isn’t asking a lot of Stroud. Both teams will try to run the football behind strong offensive lines, and the Gophers might have an edge in the passing game. That won’t win the game, but it will allow them to stay within the spread.
View all available college football odds.