Minnesota vs. Ohio State kicks off this Saturday (11/18/23) at 4 p.m. EST in Columbus, Ohio as a home game for the Buckeyes. Get Minnesota vs. Ohio State predictions and best bets below as our best bet is on under 49 in what should be a defensive slugfest.
Minnesota vs. Ohio State Prediction
After a drubbing of Michigan State, only one more opponent stands in the Buckeyes’ way before the mega showdown against their rival Michigan. A prime lookahead spot, having to decide on how to handle the lowly Minnesota Gophers and how much they want to show a week before the playoff deciding game. That makes for an intriguing betting angle, giving value to an under in what should be a conservative game plan followed by elite defensive play.
Ohio State’s defense has been their lone consistent source of success at this point of the season. While Kyle McCord has been the definition of a roller coaster with his level of play, the Buckeyes’ defense has been dominant. Ohio State’s defense as a whole currently ranks 12th in Def Success Rate, eighth in Def Explosiveness, third in Def Points per Opportunity and 54th in Havoc.
When it comes to facing Minnesota, the Buckeyes’ front seven will need to continue their high level of play as the Gophers call one of the heaviest doses of the run in the nation. Minnesota currently runs at the 12th heaviest rate in football, yet ranks a lowly 80th in Rush Success Rate, 103rd in PPA and 115th in Explosiveness. That plays toward the Buckeyes’ defensive front as they clock in at 12th in Def Rush Success Rate, 13th in Def Rush PPA and 50th in Explosiveness.
Having to defend the pass is practically a non-factor, yet it’s worth mentioning that the OSU secondary is capable of holding its own on an island as they grade out as elite in those same metrics through the air. The same can’t be said for Minnesota’s back end as they rank 83rd in Def Pass Success Rate and 64th in Explosiveness, yet they get the benefit of Ohio State reverting to a more run heavy game script due to the schedule spot.
That plays more in the Gophers’ favor as they do a far better job at defending the run rather than the pass, ranking 17th in Def Rush Explosiveness, 47th in Def Rush PPA and 62nd in Def Rush Success Rate. The ground game has actually been a weakness for the Buckeyes as they stunningly check in at 52nd in Rush Success Rate, 84th in PPA and 126 in Explosiveness. This is in large part of McCord’s inability to stretch the field, giving opposing defenses the opportunity to stack the box and dare him to beat them over the top.
Minnesota vs. Ohio State Prediction: Under 49
Minnesota vs. Ohio State Best Betting Odds
Even with Ohio State expected to run a very conservative game script, oddsmakers still believe this will be a blowout in their favor by opening them as a -27.5 favorite. Bettors have yet to take a firm stand on either side of the spread, keeping the number the same since the open. This is an immediate pass as a back door opportunity will present itself early when Ryan Day calls off the dogs.
As for the total, oddsmakers believe points will be scored at a moderate pace as they opened the number at 49. Like the spread, bettors have yet to take a firm stand on either side of the number and have kept the total the same since the opener. Potential game script calls for an under with Minnesota struggling to move the ball and OSU going very limited into their playbook.
Minnesota vs. Ohio State Key Matchups
Can Minnesota contain star wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr?
Marvin Harrison Jr vs. Minnesota Coverage
As previously mentioned, the Minnesota coverage is not exactly ideal when it comes to limiting pass success. That doesn’t exactly bode well against the best wide receiver in football as Marvin Harrison Jr has run wild to the tune of 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Marvin Harrison Jr. tonight:
3 TOT TD
DIFFERENT. 😤 pic.twitter.com/CV9QwXApJX
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 12, 2023
Lucky for Minnesota, the limited game script may minimize the Harrison Jr exposure as they will want to keep him healthy for their date with Michigan. That may call for more quick throws and outs in the middle, negating his big play ability and anchoring him down on the catch. This type of passing will bleed time off the clock, playing towards the unders favor.