Two years ago, Indiana State reached the second round of the FCS playoffs for the first time since 1983. The Sycamores got hit with several injuries last year and fell to 5-6. Fourth-year coach Mike Sanford returned five starters on offense and six on defense.
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Isaac Harker wasn’t named Indiana State’s starting QB until right before last Saturday’s opener. The 6-foot, 195-pound sophomore validated the decision, completing 21 of 35 passes for 315 yards, no INTs and two TDs in the 41-25 win over Butler.
º GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. Sycamores DEFENSE
The Gophers’ lone turnover against Oregon State came on a fumbled punt. If the offense protects the ball again, the Gophers should have little trouble. The Sycamores scored 21 points off turnovers against Butler, including a 100-yard fumble return by safety Tsali Lough. Advantage: Gophers
Indiana State punter Thomas Bouldin averaged just 32 yards on five punts last week, compared to 41.2 for Minnesota’s Ryan Santoso, who also placed four inside the 20-yard line. Advantage: Gophers
GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. Sycamores OFFENSE
Indiana State uses run-pass option plays (RPOs), as Oregon State and others are doing more and more. “People aren’t reading defensive linemen on their zone reads; they’re reading linebackers,” Jay Sawvel said. “Linebacker moves toward the box, they throw right behind him.” Advantage: Gophers
The Gophers are used to these 11 a.m. kickoffs, but this will be the first pre-noon kick for Indiana State in at least nine years. Advantage: Gophers
INDIANA ST. 10
Minnesota should be able to rattle Indiana State’s inexperienced QB and dominate the ground game in a decisive victory.
Gophers tight end Brandon Lingen (shoulder) was cleared to practice this week and would give the offense a boost if he returns. He’s a good blocker and turned in 100-yard receiving games last year against Michigan and Iowa. The Gophers will be without running back Shannon Brooks (broken foot) and receiver Rashad Still (shoulder), however. Reserve offensive tackle Chad Fahning (unspecified) is out as well.
On defense, they won’t have linebacker Nick Rallis (elbow) or safety Ace Rogers (knee).
• Freshman DE Tai’yon Devers and junior LB Jonathan Celestin have to sit out the first half after being ejected for targeting in the second half of last week’s win over Oregon State. Junior LB Cody Poock is eligible to start the first half since his targeting penalty came in the first half against the Beavers.
• The Gophers will honor Jacob Wetterling and his No. 11 throughout the game. The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center has asked people to showcase the No. 11, which he wore in soccer, to raise awareness about making the world safer for children. Fans entering TCF Bank Stadium will receive stickers with No. 11 and “For Jacob” on them.
• Minnesota’s offensive linemen have a competition going to see who records the most knock-down blocks this season. The winner receives the “Knock Down Cup,” a trophy featuring a silver bowl. Senior right tackle Jonah Pirsig took an early lead last week, with newcomer Vincent Calhoun closest to him in the standings.