Breaking it down: Gophers face first road test
Who: Minnesota vs. Colorado State
When: 2:30 p.m. CT
Where: Hughes Stadium, Colorado State
Spread: Minnesota -5
Matchup to watch: Rashard Higgins Jr. vs. Briean Boddy-Calhoun/Eric Murray
Who doesn’t love a little strength-on-strength matchup? The Preseason All-Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year did not face a duo like Minnesota’s in the opener. Boddy-Calhoun and Murray, on the other hand, were responsible for containing a Heisman candidate. Both are physical, skilled corners that relish the chance to match up against bigger receivers like Higgins. Jerry Kill might try to throw a combination 1-2 punch with his dynamic duo. If they take away the Rams’ best option, that could be a knockout blow.
Thing I’m excited to see: Rodney Smith’s encore
Welcome to the big stage, Mr. Smith. The redshirt freshman toted the rock 16 times for 88 yards and a score against that loaded TCU front. He had a costly fumble in the end zone that would’ve resulted in an even bigger opener, but he still impressed in his first collegiate game. Smith didn’t have a single carry result in negative yardage, which speaks to his vision and maturity not to get too cute behind the line of scrimmage. He got a nice vote of confidence from former Gopher back David Cobb, too. Kill will still have Rodrick Williams involved and Mitch Leidner will keep a few for himself. But the Gophers might have a budding star in the shifty Williams.
Number to remember: 1
That’s how many career starts Colorado State quarterback Nick Stevens has. The sophomore looked up to the part with five touchdown passes last week, but that was against Savannah State. Kill is going to do all he can to try to confuse the CSU signal-caller and get him unsettled in the pocket. The Gophers did a solid job of that against Trevone Boykin and the high-powered TCU offense last week, but they didn’t have any hurries and only brought him down once. Theiren Cockran and Co. have to rattle the sophomore and make him take a few shots early.
Prediction: Minnesota 24, Colorado State 14
I actually think the Gophers match up well with the Rams. They have two guys that can contain Colorado State’s top offensive weapon, they have a running game that control the clock and they should be able to handle an unproven Rams rushing attack. Colorado State doesn’t have Jim McElwain anymore, but this is still a team that won 10 games last year. The Gophers pick up a solid non-conference road win playing smash-mouth football.