Gophers defense unable to stop Ohio State’s Wells on the ground

Mark Heller

Pity those few remaining Gopher football fans who stuck around with two minutes left in Saturday night’s 31-28 loss to Ohio State. They probably thought the Gophers could stop the Buckeyes, then get the ball back with a minute remaining.

Fans, players, heck, anyone watching ESPN knew Buckeyes senior tailback Jonathan Wells was going to get the ball and try running out the clock.

And yet, Wells expired the clock and the Gophers with 18, three and 21-yard runs, padding his 24-carry, 152-yard, two touchdown evening.

“I wasn’t trying to run the clock out,” he said. “I was trying to score.”

His pursuit of a touchdown trifecta never materialized. Quarterback Steve Bellisari – who did some Minnesota-shredding of his own with two touchdowns – took a knee on the game’s last two plays.

But the Wells-Bellisari damage was already done. On national TV, Wells carved, sliced and juked his way through the Gophers defense, shrugging off tacklers with relative ease. He was never tackled for a loss.

“I didn’t care how many people they put in the box,” Wells said. “They could have put 12 guys in there and I would have run the ball.”

Ohio State racked up nearly six yards per carry, making Bellisari – who had 11 carries for 66 yards – an ultra-efficient passer. Never sacked and rarely hurried, Bellisari had just five incompletions.

With a six-yard average, the Buckeyes only had nine third-downs, and completed six of them. This from a Buckeyes team – largely because of Bellisari’s ineffectiveness – ranked second to last in third-down efficiency heading into the Metrodome.

Wells chewed up yards and clock on the ground, and swallowed the Gopher defense whole.

“He ran hard, and he ran with his shoulders squared, which we always talk about,” said

Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel. “I love these seniors, this is their year.”

Men’s basketball behind

With his team’s first exhibition game approaching, Minnesota men’s basketball coach Dan Monson said he was not pleased with the team’s closed scrimmage last Saturday.

“(It was) not good enough. There’s still a long ways to go,” he said before Monday’s practice.

· Center Jeff Hagen plans to redshirt this season. The 6-11 sophomore started 2 of 26 games he played in last season and averaged 7.5 points and 1.2 rebounds per outing.

– Jabari Ritchie, Staff Reporter