Ohio State has one more obstacle before its showdown at Michigan — the No. 2 Buckeyes will host banged up Minnesota on Saturday in Columbus.
The Buckeyes (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten) fell one spot in the College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday after holding the top spot the first two weeks. Georgia is ranked first, Michigan third.
Ohio State will play at Michigan on Nov. 25, with the winner advancing to the Big Ten championship game.
While the Buckeyes know wins in the next two games should secure one of the four playoff spots even if they were to lose in the conference title game, the Golden Gophers (5-5, 3-4) are vying to become bowl eligible by winning at least one of their final two games. Minnesota will finish the season at home against Wisconsin.
The Gophers are coming off a 49-30 loss to Purdue in which Minnesota starting linebacker Cody Lindenberg did not play because of an injury and backup Maverick Baranowski exited after the first series. Also, safety Aidan Gousby was out with an injury.
“Unfortunately, some of our best players are out, and it seems like every week it’s just the inconsistency of who’s actually out there,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said Monday. “There’s no excuses. I mean, 100 percent falls on the coaches and what we have to do to get better.”
Ohio State played its most complete game of the season last Saturday, a 38-3 win against Michigan State in which the usually slow-starting Buckeyes scored on five of six drives in the first half.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day said Tuesday he has no concerns that the Buckeyes will look past the Gophers.
“Coming to work every day with these guys, this is a great team to be around,” Day said. “We’re going to do it again this week and keep swinging. … The urgency has to be at an all-time high at this point of the season.
“P.J. does a great job. They’re going to come in here and play hard. We’re going to have to prepare for it like any other game.”
The Buckeyes will look to receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. to lead them again. Against Michigan State, he had a 19-yard run for his first career rushing touchdown and caught seven passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns despite being pulled along with several other starters after the first series of the third quarter.
“The Heisman Trophy goes to the most outstanding player in the country. … I get to see him every day,” Day said. “I think he is the most outstanding player in the country.
“He wants to be great. I know that. You can just tell that, and his actions back that up, and his production speaks for itself on the field.”
Harrison is second nationally with 12 receiving TDs and seventh with 1,063 receiving yards.
Fleck knows the Gophers’ defense will have a task trying to contain Harrison.
“I think he has a great knack and feel for how defenses are going to be played and how they are going to stop him and what the route concept is and what the route calls for,” Fleck said.
–Field Level Media
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