Two bitter teams to battle in Columbus

Both the Gophers and Buckeyes come in after tough road losses.

Gophers FB vs Purdue

Matt Mead

Gophers FB vs Purdue

by Marco LaNave

In the week following a 20-0 loss at Penn State , the Gophers could scrutinize an array of reasons they missed a chance to upset a top-15 opponent on the road. Minnesota will attempt to throw off the plague of feeble offensive drives and unfinished defensive stands this weekend, as it hopes to replicate a recent upset formula and capitalize on the swirling quarterback questions facing No. 18 Ohio State . The Gophers will get a sort of do-over on Saturday when they travel to Ohio Stadium and face another ranked conference opponent on the road in front of more than 100,000 people. Senior punter Blake Haudan said he disagrees with the idea that consecutive trips to homecoming games in State College , Pa., and Columbus , Ohio, make for too tough of a road schedule. âÄúI think it is absolutely a huge advantage to have two big, 100,000-plus fan games back-to-back,âÄù Haudan said. âÄúBecause last week, we [got] a little more acclimated to having that many fans and that kind of crowd.âÄù Haudan, a native of Toledo, Ohio, said he attended a few games at Michigan and Ohio State when he was younger (Ann Arbor is closer to Toledo than Columbus). He said Tuesday that he had already set aside about 30 tickets to the game for family and friends. In addition to three other Ohio natives , Haudan and the Gophers hope to put on a show. Few things would be more impressive than winning against the Buckeyes, the Big Ten opponent with the most success against the Gophers . Ohio State has won the past six games and 34 of the past 36 meetings. The Gophers might have been given a partial answer key to solving the 2009 Buckeyes when Purdue upset then-No. 7 Ohio State, 26-18, last Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind. Instead of running âÄî which Gophers head coach Tim Brewster described as âÄútough sleddingâÄù against Ohio StateâÄôs ninth-ranked rushing defense âÄî Purdue decided to throw against the Buckeyes, who rank a respectable, but less impressive, 37th in the country against the pass. The Boilermakers completed 31 of 52 passes and gained 281 of their 361 total yards through the air . To replicate that success, the Gophers might need to work backwards. Minnesota has often tried to establish the run to create opportunities in the passing game for senior wide receiver Eric Decker and other playmakers. On Saturday, the Gophers will go from facing the Big TenâÄôs best rushing defense at Penn State to playing the second-best . âÄúIf you can make some plays down the field and get the linebackers to drop out of their stance and get the safeties playing deep, you can definitely open up the running game,âÄù Decker said. Any team hoping to beat Ohio State will need to hold the ball, too. Purdue had 36 minutes of possession against the Buckeyes. The Gophers held the ball for just 18 minutes against the Nittany Lions . On the defensive side, Purdue put pressure on Buckeyes sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor , sacking him five times and forcing him to commit four of Ohio StateâÄôs five turnovers . The dual-threat Pryor, who was the nationâÄôs top-ranked player in the 2008 recruiting class, according to , ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns and passed for another score when he faced the Gophers in his second career start last season . The past two weeks, though, Pryor has completed just half of his passes, while rushing for less than 2.5 yards per carry . After those performances, Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel has been bombarded this week with questions about his quarterback. Even PryorâÄôs high school coach told he thought the Buckeyes offense was not maximizing PryorâÄôs abilities. Tressel said Tuesday that Pryor receives disproportionate praise for wins and blame for losses as the quarterback. âÄúI donâÄôt think thereâÄôs anything that all of a sudden you raise red flags and say, âÄòGosh, weâÄôre not going forwardâÄô,âÄù Tressel said. âÄúBecause, I think, even when you stumble, you go forward.âÄù With the same attitude, the Gophers need to just have fun Saturday, junior quarterback Adam Weber said. âÄúEvery single weekâÄôs another opportunity to put on pads and to get out there and play with your friends and teammates,âÄù Weber said. âÄúThis week is just another opportunity to go out there and play a great team and hopefully do something special.âÄù