Ohio State football: Minnesota’s Fleck got his start with Buckeyes

Head coach P.J. Fleck of the Minnesota Golden Gophers looks on before the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes on October 6, 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

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Head coach P.J. Fleck of the Minnesota Golden Gophers looks on before the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes on October 6, 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Ohio State plays Golden Gophers at noon Saturday

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck will return to Ohio Stadium on Saturday 12 years after getting his start in coaching as a graduate assistant on Jim Tressel’s staff.

The Golden Gophers (3-2, 0-2) play the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0, 3-0) at noon.

“I got a chance to see Jim Tressel go 12-0, and every game we won, I was like, ‘Man, this coaching thing is easy,” said Fleck, who also coached at Ohio Stadium with Western Michigan in 2015. “Playing was hard but coaching, this a breeze. Every game we win by 30. This ain’t that hard. Just do what Jim does, and I’m sure they will do that when I become a head coach.”

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While Ohio State was perfect in the regular season in 2006, it lost 41-14 to Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators in the BCS title game.

“I remember we got into the national championship game ,and you all saw how that went,” Fleck said. “Teddy Ginn scores the opening touchdown on a kickoff return and breaks his foot. The entire game plan is built around Teddy Ginn. And in the middle of the second quarter, we go for it on fourth down. Jim Tressel says into the headset — again I’m thinking, he’s the closest thing to a higher power you can get — ‘Boys, if we don’t get this fourth down, it’s over.’ At that moment, I found out that anybody can get beat at any point, whether you’re looked at as a terrific coach, whether you’re looked at as a bad coach or whether you’re looked at anywhere in between.”

Quarterback connection: Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa share more than Heisman headlines and spots in the national rankings. They share a history that dates back to their high school days days in the Elite 11 quarterback camp. They have stayed in touch since then. Haskins said they talk every week.

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Before their games last Saturday, they texted each other scriptures.

“We send out blessings to each other,” Haskins said. “He did a great job last week. He’s an accurate guy who brings a lot to his offense. He’s really upbeat, a spirited guy. I admire his game.”

Former Buckeye: Matthew Burrell, who played three seasons at Ohio State before transferring to Sam Houston State in April, shared a personal story about his battle with depression in an Instagram post Wednesday. He told of being bullied in fifth grade, standing up for himself and finding solace in football.

“I struggle weekly with my mental health,” Burrell wrote, “and I’ve been through more than I could ever explain.”

Big anniversary: The 1968 Buckeyes will hold a reunion this weekend 50 years after their 10-0 national championship season.

Local Gophers: Centerville graduate Jared Weyler, a fifth-year senior, has started every game this season at center for Minnesota. He started six games last season but missed six games with an injury.

Weyler is one of eight Minnesota players who have already earned their degrees. He completed a double major in accounting and entrepreneurial management with a minor in leadership.

Wayne graduate Alex Reigelsperger is a freshman defensive lineman for Minnesota.

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