No surprise. Gophers lose 45-0 at Ohio State

Jeff Sherry

COLUMBUS, Ohio — By the time the Gophers and Ohio State finished their first quarter of football Saturday, a rather improbable scenario had developed at Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes, ranked second in the country, had yet to blow Minnesota into Lake Erie as was expected. The 35-point favorites turned the ball over three times and the quarter ended in a 0-0 tie.
So for a few fleeting moments, Minnesota’s fortune didn’t seem quite so dismal. Maybe the teams were more similar than previously thought. After all, both teams play in the same conference. And hey, they both put their pants on one leg at a time.
But that’s where the similarities ended. Ohio State continued its dominant play on defense, its offense started converting, and the Buckeyes went on to shut out Minnesota, 45-0. Ohio State was, in fact, in an entirely different league.
“They destroyed us,” Gophers coach Jim Wacker said. “There’s nothing else to say. They totally dominated us. I was really impressed — a little bit stunned, real frankly. I don’t ever remember any of our teams being shut down the way we were shut down today.
“The offense has been our strength for five years. Nobody’s been able to do this to us.”
Ohio State’s dominance extended far beyond the scoreboard. Despite all of their opportunities, the Gophers only advanced the ball into OSU territory twice. The Buckeyes gained 452 yards and held Minnesota’s offense to 104.
By game’s end, the teams’ fans were about all that was left to compare. Like the audience at the Metrodome, the Buckeyes’ fans left early. But their crowd of 93,588 was a bit larger, and they left because of how far ahead their team was.
Early on, however, the loud crowd at “The Horseshoe” found itself frustrated. Ohio State moved the ball nearly at will, but continually made mistakes near the goal line. Minnesota turned those mistakes into turnovers, but was unable to convert them into points.
Here’s a rundown of Ohio State’s first four possessions, and how Minnesota responded:
ù OSU moved the ball to Minnesota’s 45-yard line before quarterback Stanley Jackson was intercepted by Rishon Early at the 23. The Gophers went three-and-out.
ù OSU moved the ball to Minnesota’s 11 before Jackson was intercepted by Rufus Smith in the end zone. Gophers quarterback Cory Sauter threw an interception on the following play.
ù OSU moved the ball to Minnesota’s 4-yard line before Josh Jackson kicked a field goal off the left upright. The Gophers went three-and-out.
ù OSU moved the ball down near the Minnesota end zone, where Jermon Jackson fumbled trying to reach the ball across the goal line. The Gophers went three-and-out.
Ohio State (8-0 overall, 5-0 in the Big Ten) never felt threatened. “The way we were playing defense, I thought we would still win the football game,” Coach John Cooper said.
The Buckeyes threw another interception in the second quarter, but their defense continually pressured Minnesota’s offense with blitzes, tight man-to-man coverage and overpowering play on the line of scrimmage.
“I felt really guilty,” Sauter said. “Our defense was playing the best it had all year long. If they’re playing that well, we definitely need to step up and play a lot better. We just had trouble getting anything going.”
The Buckeyes took a 10-0 lead into halftime, then exploded in the second half. They scored on their opening drive, and linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown on Minnesota’s ensuing possession. Suddenly the score was 24-0, and the rout had begun.
The Gophers (3-5, 0-5) now find themselves in a tight position. Although the team is done playing the Big Ten juggernauts, it still needs two wins in its remaining games against Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa to avoid losing its coach.
“The next three opponents are definitely teams we can beat — teams that are in our same type of caliber,” Sauter said. “Ohio State was a notch above where we are. We’ve really got to refocus ourselves and know that we’ve got a shot at winning two or three of our last games.”

GAME SUMMARY
Gophers 0 0 0 0 — 0
Ohio State 0 10 21 14 — 45

First Quarter:
No scoring
Second Quarter:
OSU — Pearson 10 run (Josh Jackson kick) 2:35
OSU — FG Stamp 47, 0:05
Third Quarter:
OSU — Calhoun 5 pass from Germaine (Josh Jackson kick) 10:46
OSU — Katzenmoyer 42 interception return (Josh Jackson kick) 8:42
OSU — Jermon Jackson 2 run (Josh Jackson kick) 2:23
Fourth Quarter:
OSU — Pearson 2 run (Josh Jackson kick) 8:09
OSU — Wiley 28 pass from Hoying (Josh Jackson kick) 4:22
A — 93,588
T — 3:09.

TEAM STATISTICS
First Downs: Min 9, OSU 25. Rushing Yards: Min 47, OSU 230. Passing Yards: Min 57, OSU 222. Total Yards: Min 104, OSU 452. Fumbles Lost: Min 1, OSU 1. Possession Time: Min 28:45, OSU 31:15.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING — Minnesota, Evans 8-33, Hamner 12-22, Jackson 5-14, Wynn III 2-8, Atwell 2-(-4), Sauter 5-(-26). Ohio State, Pearson 23-123, Jermon Jackson 14-82, Montgomery 3-16, Stanley Jackson 1-12, Wiley 1-6, Keller 1-2, Germaine 2-(-11).
PASSING — Minnesota, Sauter 11-28-3 57, Wynn III 0-1-1 0. Ohio State, Stanley Jackson 8-15-2 93, Germaine 6-11-1 75, Hoying 2-2-0 33, Pearson 1-1-0 21.
RECEIVING — Minnesota, Atwell 3-17, Hamner 2-11, Nelson 2-5, Leverson 1-9, Hubbard 1-7, Thelwell 1-6, Kratochvil 1-2. Ohio State, Stanley 3-81, Lumpkin 2-35, Wiley 2-33, Pearson 2-16, Tillman 2-10, Jackson 1-14, Boston 1-11, Jones 1-8, Miller 1-6, Calhoun 1-5, Keller 1-3.