The Call: Gophers vs. New Hampshire

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 8, 2012 - 2:21 AM

The Wildcats are one of the best in the FCS, having been to the playoffs eight years in a row. Oregon's Chip Kelly helped design their up-tempo offense.

GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. WILDCATS DEFENSE

The Gophers will have a substantial size advantage up front, 30 pounds at some positions, so expect them to try to wear New Hampshire down (and keep the ball away from its offense) with plenty of running plays. The Wildcats gave up only 3 yards per carry last week against Holy Cross, so it might be a better matchup than you would expect. Advantage: Gophers

GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. WILDCATS OFFENSE

This should be a fascinating test. New Hampshire's no-huddle attack forces teams to adjust at warp speed; the Wildcats were 11-for-17 on third downs last week. Safety Derrick Wells' play-calling ability will be crucial. Wildcats receivers R.J. Harris and Joey Orlando are especially dangerous, but freshman quarterback Sean Goldrich might not be used to this speed. Advantage: Gophers

SPECIAL TEAMS

Punting remained a problem for the Gophers at UNLV, and they had a bad turnover and a missed field goal on special teams, too. New Hampshire's special teams appear solid; they averaged 25 yards per kickoff return last week, and 42.7 yards per punt. Advantage: New Hampshire

INTANGIBLES

Both teams were penalty-plagued last week, and the Gophers scored only one touchdown in six red-zone trips, while New Hampshire was 5-for-5. The Wildcats have confidence, having gone 5-2 against FBS teams since 2004. But being home should make the Gophers far more comfortable. Advantage: Even

PREDICTION

Any other team might be in danger of overlooking an FCS opponent, but the Gophers have too many FCS-inflicted scars to do that. A motivated home team lets its size and speed advantage take over. Gophers 27, New Hampshire 17

NUMBERS TO KNOW

2-3 The Gophers' record against FCS teams since 2007.

3 Interceptions by the Gophers last week against UNLV, only one short of their season total in 2011.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT

John Rabe, Gophers  He caught two passes last week, both for TDs -- a ratio the Gophers would like to maintain.

 

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