Gophers Play Tough Against #1 But Come Up Short
COLUMBUS, Ohio (GopherSports.com) - Ohio State's latest quarterback change didn't go so smoothly, but the Buckeyes got just enough from everyone else to stay unbeaten.
Ezekiel Elliott weaved 15 yards for a touchdown on Ohio State's only lengthy drive, and the top-ranked Buckeyes weathered Minnesota's two fourth-quarter touchdowns for a 28-14 victory Saturday night.
Elliott ran for 114 yards -- his 14th straight 100-yard game -- and Vonn Bell returned an interception 16 yards for his first career touchdown for a 21-0 lead that held up. The Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) struggled to move the ball most of the game with Cardele Jones back at quarterback.
Up next for the Buckeyes: A game at Illinois followed by the two teams from the state up north -- No. 6 Michigan State and No. 16 Michigan.
Minnesota (4-5, 1-4) managed only 110 yards through three quarters before finally getting Mitch Leidner's two TD passes, the last with 2:10 to go. The onside kick went out of bounds, and Jones ran 38 yards untouched off a fake handoff for a clinching touchdown.
The Gophers have dropped their last two under interim coach Tracy Claeys, hanging in there until the end against Michigan and Ohio State.
The Buckeyes' latest quarterback switch ran into some problems.
Jones completed Ohio State's surge to the national title last season after J.T. Barrett got hurt against Michigan, and he kept the job for the first seven games this season. With the offense inconsistent, coach Urban Meyer switched back to Barrett, who had five touchdowns in a 49-7 win at Rutgers.
Barrett was cited for impaired driving during the Buckeyes' off week, drawing a one-game suspension from the school. Jones was back at quarterback Saturday, but wasn't effective throwing it. He went 12 of 22 for 187 yards with a touchdown, four sacks and a fumble at the Minnesota 21.
Jones' 44-yard completion set up a weaving, 15-yard touchdown run by Elliott with 54 seconds left in the half for a 14-0 lead. Ohio State had more yards in that drive (77) than the rest of the half (55).
Braxton Miller -- the other quarterback on the Buckeye roster -- took five snaps and ran each time. He also caught a 45-yard pass. His head hit the ground hard as he was tackled after the catch, and he had to be helped off the field.
Bell got Ohio State's first score on a 16-yard interception return that initially was nullified by a targeting penalty. A review indicated there was no targeting and the score stood.
The Gophers played their second game since coach Jerry Kill retired on Oct. 28 because of health issues. In the closing seconds against Michigan last week, Claeys decided to go for it instead of taking a tying field goal, and Leidner was stopped at the 1 to preserve the Wolverines' 29-26 win.
Leidner made this one tight at the end, too.
He led a 77-yard touchdown drive that culminated in his 4-yard pass to K.J. Maye with 10:25 left, cutting it to 21-7. He then hit Maye with a 57-yard pass that set up his 4-yard touchdown to Rashad Still that gave the Gophers a chance until their onside kick dribbled out of bounds.