2. The Gophers are still in the process of rebuilding
The Gophers are led by second year head coach P.J. Fleck. The team is just 3-2 on the season thus far. They’ve struggled to keep things together this season as they’re still trying to get their footing. The Gophers are still looking for an identity in the Big Ten under their new coaching regime.
Fleck has an 8-9 record with the Gophers after an uneven showing last season. Given the Gophers are a very young team, it’s not surprising to see the inconsistencies in their play. Fleck has taken the approach of starting over and rebuilding with fresh players off the recruiting block. It will take some time for them to build their team up in order to compete with the upper echelon of the Big Ten.
The Gophers are extremely inexperienced offensively. They are starting six freshmen on offense which is easily the most out of any team the Buckeyes have played. This will make it easy for the Buckeyes to bring the heat as they’ll be more likely to make mistakes. In fact, the Gophers give the ball away almost more than anybody as they have the 21st most giveaways in the nation.
It’s hard enough to ask a freshman quarterback to lead a team in the Big Ten. More so, it’s practically impossible for a team to have a freshman quarterback beat the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium. The Gophers are starting freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad this season. He’s thrown the third most interceptions in the Big Ten. Annexstad has been sacked more than anybody in the Big Ten.
Not only do the Gophers have an inexperienced quarterback, but they have an even harder time protecting him. The Buckeyes will surely bring pressure on him early and often this weekend. There’s no doubt the Gophers will turn the ball over in some fashion whilst attempting to pick at the Buckeyes’ defense with a freshman offense. Expect the Buckeyes to succeed over a rebuilding Gophers team.