Ohio State releases trailers before every football game. They’re not quite as eagerly anticipated as the trailers previewing the new Star Wars movie, but in Buckeye country at least, they whet fans’ appetite for the upcoming game.
In this week’s trailer, previewing the 8 p.m. game against Minnesota (4-4, 1-3) tonight at Ohio Stadium, an unidentified player or coach gives a pep talk as footage rolls of the Buckeyes getting dressed and walking out of the tunnel before a game.
“We can take the uniforms off,” the person says, “but when we walk out of here, you can’t take the heart away. That’s what it’s all about for me. It’s about your heart on the inside. Are you willing to give everything you’ve got for what we stand for?”
That’s what the Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0) will have to do in the month ahead as their quest for a second straight national title resumes.
The bye week came at a good time for everyone but J.T. Barrett, who was cited for operating a vehicle while impaired last weekend and will serve a one-game suspension today. With Cardale Jones back in the starting quarterback role, the Ohio State offense will again be under the microscope.
As with most opponents on Ohio State’s schedule, you can find a reason to think Minnesota has a chance to pull the upset, even if sometimes you have to search hard for it. The Gophers have had an up-and-down season. They played No. 8 Texas Christian close in the season opener, losing 23-17, and then beat two Mid-American Conference teams, Kent State and Ohio, by a total of six points.
In Big Ten play, Northwestern blanked Minnesota 27-0. Nebraska routed the Gophers 48-25. Minnesota beat Purdue 41-13. Then came last week’s game when the Gophers came within inches of beating Michigan.
Minnesota appeared to take a 32-29 lead on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Leidner to Drew Wolitarsky, but the officials overturned the touchdown when replay showed Wolitarsky’s knee touching the ground inside the 1-yard line.
Minnesota still had first-and-goal with 19 seconds left and at the very least could have kicked a game-tying field goal. Instead, Leidner threw an incomplete pass and then was stopped for no gain as time expired. The 29-26 loss spoiled the debut of interim coach Tracy Claeys, who took over when Jerry Kill retired last week.
Assistant head coach Matt Limegrover explained the coaches’ thinking in those final seconds.
“In the emotion of thinking we won the football game — and I know Tracy keeps blaming himself — but I should have been the one to say, ‘Hey, we need to spike it here, stop the clock, collect ourselves, and then do what we need to do from there,” Limegrover said. “Tracy said, ‘We’re a half yard from this thing. We need to go.’ I wasn’t going to argue with him. We didn’t get it done.”