COLUMBUS — After a double overtime win over Penn State and a 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech, Ohio State’s coaches heard some criticism for being too conservative in their play calling.
There wasn’t much that could be called conservative in the Buckeyes’ offense in a 49-37 win over Michigan State last Saturday night, though.
Offensive coordinator Tom Herman addressed the topic of what went into the decision to dial up the level of aggressiveness earlier this week as OSU prepared to play Minnesota and its ball control, run-dominated offense.
“I think our mantra for the week was we were going to empty the chamber. We were going to be aggressive,” Herman said. “We knew they were one of the top five offenses in the country. We had to do our part, too. We couldn’t just roll in there and win the game 17-16.
“The management of that game dictated that we be very aggressive. It’s a matter of who we’re playing and how we have to manage a game to get the win,” he said. “It’s more about this is who we’re playing, this is how we have to manage the game in order to come out with a win. You have to balance all of the different facets of the equation to come out with a win.”
One of many plays that worked for OSU was the same quarterback sweep on which Braxton Miller was stopped short on 4th –down-and-2 in the fourth quarter of a 34-24 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game last season.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett scored Ohio State’s first touchdown on a 5-yard run on that play last Saturday night.
“It was what was available to us based on their defensive alignment. We just happened to execute it better. We did score two touchdowns on it in that game last year so it’s not like that play has been doomed to fail,” Herman said.
“Revenge? You don’t get that one back in Indianapolis last year. You just get to play this year,” he said.
SNOW REMOVAL: Minneapolis dodged the heavy snow that deposited as much as 16 inches of snow some places in northern Minnesota on Monday, but operators of TCF Bank Stadium, where Ohio State will play Minnesota on Saturday, were advertising on Wednesday for people to shovel snow out of the seating areas.
Minneapolis got 2 to 3 inches of snow. Ads for snow shovelers offered $10 an hour to anyone over the age of 18.
The predicted high temperature on Saturday is 28 degrees with the possibility of snow showers.
RECRUITING NEWS: Offensive tackle Branden Bowen (Draper, Utah, Corner Canyon) took back a verbal commitment to Utah on Tuesday, which led to speculation Ohio State could have changed his mind during a visit on Nov. 1 when the Buckeyes played Illinois.
The 6-foot, 7-inch, 320-pound Bowen is rated a 4-star recruit by ESPN.com. He has offers from BYU, Boise State, Oregon State and others.
ACCELERATED DEVELOPMENT: The change in Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett from the beginning of the season to now is obvious even from a distance.
Minnesota coach Jerry Kill talked about it at his weekly press conference.
“They’ve gone a great job of developing that young man from the start to where he is now,” Kill said. “This kid’s on fire now.”
Herman said he wouldn’t use the word surprised that Barrett (2,156 yards passing, 26 touchdowns) has done what he has. But how quickly Barrett has risen to that level might be “mildly surprising,” the OSU offensive coordinator said.
“You don’t have to be a coach to see it. You turn on your TV and watch J.T. play Navy or Virginia Tech or even Kent State versus playing against Michigan State and it’s a different guy,” he said.
HISTORY LESSON: This is the first time since 1967 Minnesota has beaten Michigan and Iowa in the same season.
The Gophers won 51-14 over Iowa last week after beating Michigan 30-14 on Sept. 27.
Maybe the greater significance of the 1967 season for Minnesota is that it tied for the Big Ten championship that year and that was its last Big Ten football title.