WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA -- Hello from Ross-Ade Stadium where the Gophers open Big Ten play today against Purdue.

I wrote about senior linebacker Thomas Barber and his family's deep connection to program for our game-day advance.

The No. 1 key to the game, in my opinion, lies on the other side of the ball. Can the Gophers get their running game on track?

Shannon Brooks is scheduled to make his season debut after returning from injury, which should give the offense a spark, even if he gets limited carries. Rodney Smith and Mohamed Ibrahim also are returning from injuries so the running back position is back to full strength.

The biggest question belongs to the offensive line, which, quite frankly, has been a disappointment so far this season. The line's massive size has attracted a lot of attention, but that group has struggled to find any consistency or dominance like what we saw at the end of last season.

The Gophers are averaging only 2.6 yards per carry, which ranks 124th nationally. That's a problem that needs to be fixed.

P.J. Fleck hinted this week that the coaching staff might make changes to the starting o-line so we'll see if that happens. I won't be surprised if he see some shuffling.

Purdue's defense has struggled against the run, so this is a good opportunity for the Gophers to get on track. I think that will hapen.

My prediction: Gophers 27, Purdue 24

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