The Buckeyes improved to 7-0, but some issues that have bothered them persisted.
2. The running game still left a lot to be desired.
Ohio State ran for 92 yards on 32 attempts (including three sacks that cost them 19 yards), the first time the Buckeyes were held under 100 yards since they managed only 88 against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl two seasons ago.
“Somebody told me at one time we’ve rushed for more yards than any school in the country for the last six, seven years,” said Meyer, who is in his seventh season at Ohio State. “It’s discouraging a little bit, but once again, 7-0, and looking down we’re throwing for 412. It is what it is. I just know the game of football, I’ve been around. At some point, you’ve got to line up and do what you do.”
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson says the Buckeyes might need to narrow approach.
3. The run defense struggled, too.
The Golden Gophers ran for 178 yards on 33 attempts, a 5.4-yard average.
Ohio State has allowed at least 100 yards rushing in five of seven games and has given up 178 or more yards four times already this year.
“There were a few missed gaps, people going straight up to the offensive linemen, not getting in their gaps completely,” linebacker Pete Werner said. “Those little mistakes will give up big plays. I’ll have to watch the film on that, but I know we’ve got to stay in our gaps.”
Shutting out the Golden Gophers in the second half was nice for the defense, but Werner still sounded disappointed in the outcome.
“Although they did score zero points in the second half, we missed our keys on a few plays, things in practice we did well,” he said. “Yeah, they had zero points, but we’ve gotta learn from that.”
Linebacker Pete Werner describes a strategy that gave the Buckeyes a problem against Minnesota: run-pass options.
3. The secondary had an up-and-down day.
The running game humming, Minnesota was able to attack Ohio State’s man-to-man pass defense. Quarterback Zack Annexstad made frequent use of run-pass options, choosing to pull the ball out of the running back’s belly and throw a slant to his slot receiver, Tyler Johnson.
That also gave the linebackers some fits.
“Yeah it is tough,” Werner said. “We played it how we’re supposed to play it. We just don’t want them to catch the ball. That defender is supposed to stop them, but it is hard because the linebacker has to adjust. If he sees me run in, he’s obviously not going to run the ball. He’s going to pass it. But then if I stay back, he’s going to throw the ball and I’m too late there.”
Johnson had a big day, catching eight passes for 119 yards, but Ohio State kept him out of the end zone.
The Buckeyes also scored a pair of interceptions to stymie Minnesota drives, including one by safety Isaiah Pryor with 9:25 left in the fourth quarter and Ohio State leading 23-14.
Annexstad finished 13-for-23 passing for 218 yards. He was sacked twice.
5. Ohio State is banged up.
Meyer pointed out the Buckeyes finished the game without five starters — defensive end Jonathon Cooper and linebacker Malik Harrison did not play (both concussions) did not play while defensive tackle Robert Landers, cornerback Damon Arnette and offensive tackle Thayer Munford left before it was over.
The Buckeyes also continue to be without All-American defensive end Nick Bosa, who is recovering from a core muscle injury.
Meyer said Munford rolled his ankle and has “a little hip issue, but I think he’s going to be OK.”
He did not have an update on Landers or Arnette.
Landers, a junior from Wayne High School, played through an undisclosed injury earlier in the season but declared himself 100 percent when he met with the media three days before the Minnesota game.
“Everybody’s dealing with it, but it’s a fact, and we have to play better,” Meyer said.