Coming off their biggest win of the season, the Ohio State Buckeyes will attempt to keep on trucking through the Big Ten against Minnesota on Saturday. A masterful performance from freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett (386 total yards and five touchdowns) helped them beat Michigan State and exorcise the demons from last season's Big Ten Championship game. Since losing to Virginia Tech in the second week of the season, OSU has won seven in a row.
The Gophers have been a strange team to watch this season. One week they are losing to Illinois and the very next they are beating the daylights out of Iowa. They can run the ball on anyone but can't throw their way out of a wet paper bag. Minnesota is currently tied for first place in the Big Ten West Division and plays the two teams they are tied with in the last two weeks of the season. A statement win against Ohio State would give them a huge confidence boost and a better place in the standings.
Both teams have a lot left to play for which should lead to an entertaining game at TCF Bank Field Saturday afternoon.
How to watch, listen and stream
Game time: Noon ET
Rankings and records: Minnesota is 7-2 (4-1 in the Big Ten) and No. 25 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Ohio State is 8-1 (5-0 in the Big Ten), and ranked No. 8.
Vegas: The Buckeyes opened as a 14.5-point favorite.
Weather forecast: Cloudy with a high of 27 and a low of 1. They will also probably still be shoveling out from Monday's blizzard.
Two things at stake
For Ohio State, a chance at the College Football Playoff could be on the line. After this game the Buckeyes have home games against Indiana and Michigan, before a potential conference championship game. If Ohio State is going to have any chance at the Playoff, it needs to keep winning.
For Minnesota, keeping pace in the Big Ten West Division before monumental matchups with division co-leaders Nebraska and Wisconsin.
One big matchup
Maxx Williams vs. Ohio State linebackers and secondary: Minnesota is a team that you might call "bad" at passing the ball. The Gophers average 140.2 yards per game through the air which puts them at No. 122 in the country, or, better than only two other teams. However, they have a potent weapon in 6-4 sophomore tight end Maxx Williams.
Against Iowa last week, Williams had a coming out party. He caught five passes for 46 yards and three touchdowns and had maybe the catch of the year too. If the Gophers are going to compete with the Buckeyes they will need to have more than one dimension on offense. Williams gives them the best chance to have a competent passing attack and OSU will have to gameplan around him.