Ohio State, the Gophers' opponent on Saturday in Columbus, has 10 players on its roster who were considered five-star recruits, as judged by the 247Sports composite ratings of major recruiting services. That's three more five-stars than the remaining 13 Big Ten teams combined.
What makes that stat even more impressive for the 10-0 Buckeyes: Ohio State's best playmaker, Marvin Harrison Jr., is only a four-star recruit.
"He is one of the best players in college football,'' said Gophers coach P.J. Fleck, whose team is a 27½-point underdog to the Buckeyes. "He's got good bloodlines, to say the least. But he works so hard.''
Harrison, who's considered by many to be a top-five candidate for the Heisman Trophy, has 59 receptions for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. His TD total ranks second nationally, while his 106.3 yards per game ranks seventh. And he's coming off a game in which he caught seven passes for 149 yards and two TDs, averaging 21.3 yards per catch in the Buckeyes' 38-3 win over Michigan State.
Fleck compared Harrison to NBA star Stephen Curry and his ability to impact a game even when the ball's in someone else's hands.
"Steph Curry is always working without the ball to continue to get open,'' Fleck said. "[Harrison] could be the No. 1 read the progression, he could be No. 3 read the progression, he could be in a scramble drill. He's constantly active. He's constantly finding a way to create separation.''
No update on Taylor
True freshman running back Darius Taylor, who leads the Gophers with 591 rushing yards, has missed the past three games because of a leg injury. Fleck did not have a specific update, deferring to the Big Ten availability report, which will be released two hours before kickoff. "He's working and doing everything he can to get back,'' he said.
Midafternoon starts for OSU, Wisconsin
The final two games of the regular season for the Gophers will be midafternoon starts. Minnesota's game on Saturday at Ohio State is a 3 p.m. start on BTN, while the Nov. 25 finale against Wisconsin at Huntington Bank Stadium will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports One.
The Gophers will finish the 2023 regular season with six starts at 2:30 p.m., one at 3 p.m., three at 6:30 p.m., one at 7 p.m. and one at 11 a.m.