Ohio State explodes in third quarter to down Minnesota, set up showdown with Michigan

COLUMBUS — Ohio State will head to Michigan undefeated after trouncing Minnesota 37-3 on Saturday.

The second-ranked Buckeyes (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten) blew open a close game with a pair of quick touchdowns in the third quarter, expanding a 13-0 lead to 27.

TreVeyon Henderson took a handoff, cut back to his left and sprinted 75 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the third quarter.

One play later, the Buckeyes had the ball again as Jack Sawyer stripped Minnesota quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis on first down and J.T. Tuimoloau picked it up and returned it to the Minnesota 6.

Kyle McCord connected with Marvin Harrison Jr. for a 4-yard touchdown three plays later to give Ohio State a commanding lead with 13:53 left in the third quarter.

The Buckeyes added three more with Jayden Fielding’s 32-yard field goal that was set up by a Jordan Hancock interception, and McCord found Cade Stover for a 1-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to make it 37-0.

Minnesota (5-6, 3-5) got on the board when Dragan Kesich made a 54-yard field goal with 6:43 left. That capped a 39-yard drive by the Gophers against the Ohio State second-team defense.

The easy win set up another winner-take-all edition of The Game next Saturday.

Third-ranked Michigan improved to 11-0 earlier in the day with a 31-24 win at Maryland.

The 119th meeting between the teams will be the 13th with both teams ranked in the top five and the fifth time both teams have perfect records, including last season when Michigan prevailed 45-23 in Columbus.

Back in Columbus, the first half started fast but finished with a fizzle.

Ohio State began the scoring with a ruthlessly efficient 85-yard touchdown drive after the OSU defense forced a three-and-out.

Henderson carried four times for 35 yards, including a 9-yard jaunt into the end zone, and he caught a 13-yard pass.

Ohio State looked like it might have an easy afternoon ahead, but the Golden Gophers pinned the Buckeyes deep in their own end multiple times in the first half to keep them from lighting up the scoreboard.

They added three points early in the second quarter when Fielding hit a 47-yard field goal, and Fielding connected again from 26 yards with 4:51 left.

The half ended with an injury scare as McCord was sacked by Jah Joyner and had his legs pinned underneath him, but the Ohio State quarterback got up quickly and jogged gingerly to the locker room.

He finished 20-for-30 passing for 212 yards with a pair of touchdowns.

Henderson ran for 146 yards on 15 carries, and Emeka Egbuka had 83 yards on five catches.

Sawyer led the Buckeyes with six tackles, including 3.5 for loss.

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