Gophers-Middle Tennessee State game preview

  • Updated: September 2, 2010 - 1:28 AM

THE OPPONENT Middle Tennessee State has an easy-to-dismiss directional name, but beware: The Blue Raiders were 10-3 and won the New Orleans Bowl last year.

GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. MTSU DEFENSE

If the Gophers intend to transform themselves into ground hogs against the Big Ten this season, they had better be able to bull their way up the field against the Middle Tennessee State. MTSU emphasizes its quickness on defense, but if Adam Weber isn't forced to throw, its speed might not matter. Advantage: Gophers

GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. MTSU OFFENSE

The Gophers got a big break when MTSU quarterback Dwight Dasher, who rushed for 13 touchdowns and threw for 23 more last year, was suspended for this game. Backup Logan Kilgore, a sophomore, has never played a Division I down, and he's not nearly as elusive. Advantage: Gophers

SPECIAL TEAMS

Both teams have reliable kickers who have performed under last-minute pressure, and MTSU's Alan Gendreau is 5-for-10 from 40 yards or farther. Eric Ellestad is accurate, but 0-for-3 from long range. The most intriguing development on special teams is cornerback Ryan Collado's new role as punt returner, something the senior never has tried before. Advantage: MTSU

INTANGIBLES

Minnesota is the first Big Ten team to ever visit 31,000-seat Floyd Stadium, and a record crowd is expected. But the Blue Raiders' fervor over the game was popped by Dasher's suspension, leaving them without their offensive linchpin. Meanwhile, the Gophers appear extremely confident they have improved. Advantage: Even

PREDICTION

With Dasher at the Blue Raiders' helm, this would have been an intriguing test for the Gophers' defense. But a matchup of perhaps the most experienced quarterback in college against one of the least experienced appears to be a decisive mismatch.

Gophers 34

Blue Raiders 20

  • GOPHERS VS. MIDDLE TENN. STATE

    6:30 p.m., Floyd Stadium • TV: ESPNU • Radio: 830-AM

    Line: Gophers by 2 1/2 • Series: First meeting

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