Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Ohio: Predicting The Score


Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Golden Gophers are 2-1 this season, after a surprisingly close 10-7 victory over Kent State last Saturday. A second MAC team is on the slate this week to wrap up non-conference play, and the Ohio Bobcats are 3-0 after easily handling Southeastern Louisiana last week.

Here’s a closer look at Saturday afternoon’s game, which will kickoff just after 2:30 p.m. Central time.

The Minnesota View

An injury-riddled offensive line was a big factor last week against Kent State, but a better offensive showing will be vital for the Gophers against Ohio. That will start with quarterback Mitch Leidner, who has to play well this week to set aside questions about his status as the starter.

Running back Rodney Smith set a career-high with 30 carries last week, but his 73 yards on the ground was a big disappointment against a clearly inferior opponent. I like Smith’s increased involvement in the passing game against Kent State, with four catches for 24 yards, which should absolutely continue against Ohio. Smith should be the centerpiece of Minnesota’s offense on Saturday.

Kent State’s offensive ineptitude should be remembered, but the Gophers’ defense deserves a ton of credit for stepping up and holding the Golden Flashes without an offensive point. Another strong defensive effort will be crucial against Ohio, particularly if Leidner and the Minnesota offense can’t get much going.

The Ohio View

Bobcats’ quarterback Derrius Vick threw for 327 yards and two touchdowns last week, and he has completed over 69 percent of his passes so far this season. Big plays have been a prominent part of Ohio’s pass offense so far, as Vick entered this week’s action averaging 11.2 yards per attempt (tied for third-best in FBS).

Ohio has a trio of capable running backs, with A.J. Ouellette, Daz’mond Patterson and Papi White averaging 5.3 yards per carry as a group with six combined rushing touchdowns. I expect Ouellette to step into a workhorse role this week, but White has been a productive pass catcher this season (eight catches for 101 yards) and Patterson is averaging over six yards per carry while leading the trio with three rushing scores.

The Gophers need to finish their non-conference schedule on a high note, and if Leidner struggles we could see true freshman Demry Croft under center at some point. Head coach Jerry Kill has come off as childish in front of the media this week after last Saturday’s dismal offensive performance, so if the Gophers lose on Saturday it will be interesting to see if that demeanor changes heading into the Big Ten opener.

Score Prediction: Minnesota 17, Ohio 13

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