Here are five things to know about the game and the series:
1. The Golden Gophers will bring a two-game losing streak to Ohio Stadium.
Minnesota followed up a one-point loss to Illinois by getting blown out 49-30 at Purdue last week.
The Boilermakers snapped a four-game losing streak by shredding Minnesota’s defense, throwing for 251 yards and running for an eye-popping 353.
“We are an inconsistent football team right now, period,” head coach P.J. Fleck told reporters in West Lafayette after the game (via the St. Paul Pioneer Press). “When you have an inconsistent, young football team — inexperienced football team — and then you get injuries on top of that.
“I’m proud of their fight, their scratch, their claw, their how, their effort. I’m so darn proud of how hard they play. You don’t get ribbons for playing hard. Nobody cares, but that’s what I love to see because I know the reasons for the results not becoming (a positive) result. Not excuses, but I know the reasons.”
2. Things seem to have gone from bad to worse.
Minnesota started the season with a 13-10 win over visiting Nebraska.
After beating Eastern Michigan 25-6, they lost a pair of road games at North Carolina and Northwestern.
They coughed up a 21-point fourth quarter lead against the Wildcats, perhaps the
The Wildcats entered the season with low expectations, and they trailed by 21 entering the fourth quarter.
They were 3-3 after beating Louisiana and getting stomped by Michigan but wins over Iowa and Michigan State appeared to have the Gophers back on track at 5-3.
Then came back-to-back losses to teams with losing records that put making a bowl game in doubt.
If they cannot upset Ohio State, the Gophers will have to take care of rival Wisconsin in the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe a week later if they want to play in the postseason.
3. They have struggled to gain yards and score points.
Like most Big Ten teams, Minnesota has struggled on offense this season.
Minnesota is 100th in the nation in scoring (22.5 points per game) and 111th in total yards (318.6), though that is good enough for eighth and ninth, respectively, in the 14-team Big Ten.
Athan Kaliakmanis is eighth in the Big Ten with a passer rating of 117.7, and his 158.2 passing yards per game rank seventh.
Daniel Jackson is third in the Big Ten in receiving yards with 681, veteran Chris Autman-Bell has more than 1,000 career receiving yards, and tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford is regarded as one of the top tight ends in the country.
Minnesota has one of the nation’s best freshman running backs, but Darius Taylor has missed the last three games with an injury after rushing for 591 yards in his first five games.
4. The defense is banged up.
Belying their performance last week, the Golden Gophers have played good defense at times this season.
They rank 52nd in total defense, including 45th against the run and 67th against the pass, while being tied for 61st in points allowed per game (25.8).
However, top tackler Maverick Baranowski went down with an injury at Purdue, and Fleck lamented his team’s lack of depth at that position after the game.
Tyler Nubin, a senior safety from St. Charles, Ill., has been a ballhawk this season with four interceptions and four pass breakups, and he is second on the team with 49 tackles.
5. Ohio State leads the all-time series 47-7.
The Buckeyes have won 13 games in a row against Minnesota and 29 of the last 30.
Their last loss to the Golden Gophers was a 29-17 setback at Ohio Stadium in 2000 under the direction of former Buckeye player and assistant coach Glen Mason.
He was among the candidates to replace head coach John Cooper at Ohio State a year later, but the job went to Jim Tressel instead. Tressel went 8-0 against the Gophers, Urban Meyer was 3-0, and Ryan Day won his only previous meeting.
The teams did not play last season, but the Buckeyes opened the 2021 season with a 45-31 win at Minnesota.
The last time the teams played in Columbus was Nov. 13, 2018, a 30-14 Ohio State win.
Minnesota at Ohio State, 4 p.m., BTN, 1410