Traveling to Fort Collins, Co. for their first road game of the season, the Gophers won’t have an easy time picking up a win against a pass-heavy Colorado State. A full breakdown and score prediction can be seen below:
When Minnesota runs the ball:
Rodrick Williams and Rodney Smith should have a relatively easy time running the ball in tomorrow’s game. Colorado State gave up 202.6 rushing yards per game last season, and while Williams didn’t have a strong game against TCU, he will have an easy time rebounding against a rushing defense that is much weaker than TCU’s.
When Colorado State runs the ball:
Running back Jasen Oden Jr. had an exceptional first game with 74 yards on just 11 carries against Savannah State. However, Oden Jr. has only carried the ball 57 times in his career and he hasn’t been fairly evaluated against an opponent of Minnesota’s caliber. Colorado State won’t see the same success TCU had against the Gophers and the overall inexperience of the Ram’s rushing game gives Minnesota the slight edge here.
When Minnesota passes the ball:
This will be a tough test for quarterback Mitch Leidner. Colorado State has experience in their secondary and Minnesota’s passing attack got off to a rough start last week. Their offensive line is coming off injuries, and Leidner has yet to emerge as a strong passing quarterback. Colorado State should be able to keep this part of the game under control.
Advantage: Colorado State
When the Rams pass the ball:
The key matchup of the game lies here. Colorado State has several elite offensive weapons, including wide receiver Rashard Higgins. He is a preseason favorite for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the best wide receiver of the year in college football. Kivon Cartwright, who missed nearly all of last season with an injury, is a player Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill noted is also productive. However, neither Higgins nor Cartwright has really never faced a passing defense as elite as Minnesota’s and neither has their inexperienced quarterback Nick Stevens. Minnesota cornerbacks Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun will face another stiff challenge after playing against TCU’s strong passing offense, but they should be able to limit the Ram’s passing attack enough to give Minnesota a chance to win.
Other key factors:
Former Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will be in his second game as head coach and former Central Florida defensive coordinator Tyson Summers will be in his second game in the same position for the Rams, which means it’s tough for Minnesota to predict what Colorado State will do. Kill and Leidner said they have studied Georgia offensive tapes and Central Florida defensive tapes extensively in preparation for Saturday.
Colorado State has not lost a game at home since Nov. 2, 2013 and will be trying for their tenth win in a row on Saturday. However, the Rams haven’t faced a Power Five opponent in that time at home, so Minnesota will be their first real test.
Minnesota 24, Colorado State 20
This will be a closer game than people might think, but Minnesota should be able to eek out their first victory of the season.