No. 4 Ohio State beat Gophers 45-31 in home opener

A strong first half from Minnesota wasn’t enough to upset the Buckeyes Thursday night.

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Daily File Photo

Gophers football players sit on the sidelines during a game at TCF Bank Stadium on Oct. 3, 2015.

Matthew Kennedy

Despite an encouraging start to their first game of the season, Minnesota was unable to keep Ohio State at bay in the second half. The Buckeyes pulled away in the third quarter, scoring three touchdowns to Minnesota’s one.

The Gophers started out the game strong on the ground, with Ibrahim getting off to a great start running well but they had to punt from their own 48 yard line.

The Buckeyes scored quickly on their next drive with a 71 yard rush by redshirt freshman Miyan Williams to put the Buckeyes ahead 7-0.

Buckeyes kicker Noah Ruggles completed a 35 yard field goal on their second drive, giving Ohio State three more points before Minnesota had a chance to get on the scoreboard.

At this point of the game, Ohio State had all the momentum they could ask for, then the tide turned when on a fourth and inches Ibrahim bolted for a 56 yard run for a drive that was capped off by a Dylan Wright catch over the top of Ohio State cornerback Lejond Cavazos for a 13-yard touchdown.

Head coach PJ Fleck spoke post-game on the wide receiver corps’ performance without WR1 Chris Autman-Bell, “[Dylan Wright] made big time catches,” Fleck said. “Daniel Jackson had some really good grabs, but we need to be a complete WR corps. Michael Brown-Stephens made some big plays along with Brevyn Spann-Ford.”

On the next Buckeyes drive, the momentum of the game again swung in Minnesota’s favor with a Terrell Smith interception, allowing Minnesota to drive to the end zone from the Buckeyes 27-yard line.

That drive was completed by a one-yard Ibrahim touchdown on third and goal to put Minnesota ahead 14-10 at the half.

Mohamad Ibrahim scored his second touchdown of the game in the third quarter, regaining Minnesota’s lead 21-17. Ohio State was able to respond, ending the third ahead 31-21.

Ibrahim had a solid performance for the Gophers, but a fourth-quarter injury puts the rest of his season with the team in doubt. Video of the play showed what appeared to be his Achilles tendon flexing—and possibly snapping—on his left leg.

On that same drive, Kent State transfer Matthew Trickett connected on a 46-yard field goal. 31-24 Buckeyes, his first attempt and make on the Gophers. Trickett won the 2019 MAC special teams player of the year.

Trickett is a massive upgrade from Brock Walker in 2020, and Tanner Morgan said post-game how easier it is to play on offense when you have a kicker that you can trust.

“It’s huge,” Morgan said. “He’s really confident. If you are in a situation where you need a field goal and you have a kicker with long range, it makes you more comfortable. Nobody on our sideline had a doubt that the kick wasn’t going in because that’s what he does on a consistent basis.”

In the fourth quarter Ohio State scored on a 70-yard screen pass to redshirt freshman TreVeyon Henderson, increasing their lead to 38-24.

The next Minnesota possession ended with a score by Bryce Williams, his first carry of the game for 2 yards, still trailing 38-31 to the Buckeyes.

The shootout continued on the next possession with a 61 yard pass by Stroud to Olave to make the game 45-31 Buckeyes, which would be the final score.

Fleck said postgame, “We knew we were going to have to play perfect to win that football game. And we had to make sure they [Ohio State] didn’t play perfect. We had a pretty perfect first half and then the sack fumble on Tanner hurt us.”

Minnesota will face Miami-Ohio next Saturday at home with an 11:00 AM CT kickoff time.