THE OPPONENT

New Mexico State opened its season Saturday with a 29-7 home loss to Wyoming. The Aggies were held to minus-9 rushing yards on 16 carries (46 of those negative yards came on four sacks) and didn’t cross midfield until two minutes were left in the game.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Since the Aggies didn’t do much on offense, it’s probably best to focus on their defense. Senior linebacker Terrill Hanks (6-3, 235 pounds) made 11 tackles in the opener, getting a good start toward his third consecutive 100-tackle season. He had 15 tackles for loss last year.

GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. AGGIES DEFENSE

Even though they are starting a true freshman at quarterback in Zack Annexstad, pictured, the Gophers have the edge because of a stout running game led by Rodney Smith. A healthy offensive line will be a big help, too. The Aggies gave up 312 rushing yards vs. Wyoming. Advantage: Gophers

GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. AGGIES OFFENSE

The U’s linebackers, led by Thomas Barber, and the return of standout safety Antoine Winfield Jr., make this a big mismatch. Advantage: Gophers

SPECIAL TEAMS

Aggies punter Payton Theisler had plenty of practice Saturday, punting 10 times with a 44.7-yard average. Minnesota is breaking in a new punter in Jacob Herbers, but the Gophers have old reliable in senior kicker Emmit Carpenter, who’s made 81.8 percent of his FG attempts. Advantage: Gophers

INTANGIBLES

Having a game under their belt should help the Aggies, but the Gophers can counter with the emotion that goes along with their season opener and the motivation to erase a poor finish to 2017. Advantage: Gophers

RJ’S PREDICTION

GOPHERS 31
AGGIES 10

The Gophers’ talent will be raw in many places, especially at QB, but there’s too much of it for the overmatched Aggies.