The Ohio State Buckeyes will kick off their 2021 college football season under the lights in Minneapolis on Thursday.
It will be the first meeting between the Buckeyes and Gophers since 2018, and OSU’s first trip to the Twin Cities since 2014.
The leadup to the first game of the season is always full of discussions about interesting historical oddities and stats.
Ohio State owns a .850 winning percentage in conference play since 2000, with a record of 144-26. That’s the best of any Power Five conference team over that span.
Minnesota has nine players on its roster from Ohio. They are Austin Beier (Toledo), Mike Brown-Stephens (Springfield), Miles Fleming (Columbus), Conner Keyes (Cincinnati), Gage Keys (Hilliard), Thomas Rush (Marysville), Matthew Trickett (Cleveland), Devon Williams (Dublin), and Donald Willis (Garfield Heights).
There are no Buckeyes on the 2021 roster with a listed hometown in Minnesota. The most recent player from the state to play for Ohio State was Jashon Cornell in 2019.
Minnesota has 10 “super seniors” on this year’s team, players taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility afforded by the NCAA after the 2020 season. That’s one big reason they have 20 of 22 possible starters returning this fall. The Buckeyes have only 11.
Ohio State is perfect in its last 18 Big Ten conference games. The last loss came at Purdue in 2018.
Chris Olave enters the season with 22 career touchdown catches. That’s good for No. 6 all-time at Ohio State.
He is currently two touchdowns behind Brian Robiskie for fifth place. Santonio Holmes is fourth with 25.
If Olave scores 13 receiving touchdowns this season, he will break David Boston’s career record of 34.
Ohio State has won 27 of the last 28 meetings with Minnesota, stretching back to 1981. The only Buckeye defeat in that span was a 29-17 loss in 2000.
The Gophers have only two wins against OSU since 1966, a record of 2-39. Over that span, teams like Florida State (3 wins in 3 meetings), Alabama (3 wins in 4 meetings), Clemson (4 wins in 5 meetings), and UCLA (3 wins in 7 meetings) have more victories over the Buckeyes in far fewer tries. USC has four times as many wins over OSU in that span (8 in 11 meetings), in just over a quarter of the number of games.
Ohio State has won 21 consecutive season openers. The last time the Buckeyes started a season 0-1 was in 1999 when they lost the Kickoff Classic game, 23-12 against Miami in East Rutherford, NJ.
Before then, they won 12 straight opening games, stretching back to the 1986 Kickoff Classic, which was a 16-10 defeat against Alabama. That makes the Buckeyes 33-1 in season openers in the last 34 seasons.
The last time they lost a season opener outside of the swamps of northeast New Jersey was a 19-0 defeat against Penn State at home to open the 1978 season, Woody Hayes’ last in charge.
The last time the Buckeyes lost a true road game (not neutral site) in their season opener was in 1894, when they fell, 12-6 at Akron.
Thayer Munford enters the year with 45 career starts. He needs 11 more this season to break the all-time OSU record, held by another offensive lineman, Billy Price (55).
Minnesota has players back representing 100 percent of its offensive line starts from 2020. They also have back 100 percent of the tackles recorded by their defense last fall.
However, that number plunges all the way down to just… 99 percent of passing and rushing yards back for the Gophers this year.
Ohio State is ranked No. 4 in the AP preseason poll. It’s the 68th time in the last 72 years that the Buckeyes have appeared somewhere in that preseason poll. The last time they were left out was John Cooper’s first season, 1988. Before that, it happened in 1966, 1967, and 1979.