2:30 p.m., TCF Bank Stadium • TV: BTN • Radio: 100.3-FM • Line: MN by 10½ • Series: U leads 2-0
Middle Tennessee is playing its third Power Five opponent, after losing to Vanderbilt and beating Syracuse. P.J. Fleck is familiar with the Blue Raiders because his Western Michigan team beat MTSU 45-31 in the 2015 Bahamas Bowl. “They probably have a good opportunity to be Conference USA champions,’’ the Gophers coach said.
Player to watch
MTSU QB Brent Stockstill, son of coach Rick Stockstill, is questionable (shoulder injury), but Fleck expects to see him. “Oh, he’ll play,’’ Flec said of the junior lefthander.
Gophers offense vs. Blue Raiders defense
Behind an efficient Conor Rhoda, hard running from Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith and big plays from Tyler Johnson, the Gophers found another gear in Oregon. MTSU is giving up 337.5 yards per game. Advantage: Gophers
Gophers defense vs. Blue Raiders offense
This is the best offense the Gophers will see in nonconference play. The Gophers haven’t given up a second-half point yet, but Stockstill and excellent receiver Richie James will challenge that streak. Advantage: MTSU
Gophers kicker Emmit Carpenter is back on track after kicking two field goals, including a 49-yarder, against Oregon State. Middle Tennessee’s Canon Rooker has yet to attempt a field goal this year. MTSU’s James is a threat on punt returns, too. Advantage: Gophers
Saturday’s forecast calls for a hot and muggy day. That favors the team that controls the ball, which is Minnesota. MTSU opponents are averaging 34:58 in time of possession. Advantage: Gophers
The Blue Raiders are the best team the Gophers have faced so far, and they’ll keep it close.