Buckeyes look to continue dominance over Gophers

Published 2:26 am Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS — Minnesota has fired its coach, lost its past seven games and appears to be in the midst of a season that has been a huge disappointment.

On the other side is No. 10 Ohio State, which has all but owned the Golden Gophers over the years.

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“If you look at the record, there’s nothing that says we should beat Ohio State on Saturday,” Minnesota defensive end D.L. Wilhite said Tuesday. “We just have to have a whole bunch of faith within ourselves inside the locker room. Hopefully that, along with a real good week in practice and a good game plan, will help us win it.”

The Gophers (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten) might have one more thing going for them: They’re playing at home.

The Buckeyes (7-1, 3-1) have only hit the road for two games this season. Most recently, a 31-18 setback at Wisconsin two weeks ago knocked them out of the No. 1 spot. Before that was a close call in a 24-13 win at Illinois.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel stopped short of saying he was disappointed by his team’s play away from home.

“We’ve played two pretty good teams on the road, so I don’t know if I’d use ’disappointed,”’ he said Tuesday. “Do we need to play better? Yes, absolutely. But, no, I haven’t looked at our two trips and said, ’Oh, gee, I don’t think they were focused’ or ’I don’t think they understood’ or ’They let the crowd get to them.”’

Instead, the Buckeyes credit Wisconsin (7-1) and Illinois (4-3) for their struggles.

Under Tressel, Ohio State has been a good road team. In games away from Ohio Stadium in his tenure, the Buckeyes are 39-15.

Two of those defeats came in national championship games and two others in bowl games. Other losses have come at No. 1 Southern California in 2008, at No. 16 Penn State in 2005, at No. 5 Michigan and No. 23 Wisconsin in 2003 and No. 12 UCLA in his second game with the Buckeyes in 2001.

The Buckeyes have won 19 of their past 21 conference road games.

Still, this will be the first trip for an Ohio State team to TCF Bank Stadium, the Gophers’ home for the past year and a half. Before that, they had played their home games at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome from 1982-2008, Memorial Stadium 1924-81 and Greater Northrop Field 1899-1923.

It hasn’t mattered much where the Gophers have played when the Buckeyes have come to town. Ohio State has won the last 11 games in the Twin Cities and 17 of the last 18. The only loss over that span was a 35-31 decision in 1981. That loss before a crowd of 42,793 marked the next-to-last game at old Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes were a perfect 11-0 at the airless, lifeless Metrodome.

Minnesota is listed as a four-touchdown underdog against the Buckeyes.

“(There’s) a lot of doubt out there,” said interim head coach Jeff Horton, who took over when Tim Brewster was fired two weeks ago. “Nobody gives us much of a chance to win this week other than inside this room. The one thing I promise you is we’ll go out there and play hard.”

Tressel said he wanted to see some improvement for his team on the road. After all, the Buckeyes play at No. 18 Iowa in two weeks.

“We need to go on the road and play better than we’ve played,” he said.