Gophers gameday: 6 p.m., TCF Bank Stadium • TV: BTN • Radio: 107.9-FM • Line: Gophers by 24½ • Series: Minnesota leads 1-0

The opponent

Buffalo, coming off a 2-10 season and last-place finish in the Mid-American Conference’s East Division, has 14 starters back, but is that a good thing? The Bulls were outscored by nearly 200 points last year. Coach Lance Leipold was 109-6 at Wisconsin-Whitewater but 7-17 at Buffalo.

Player to watch

Sophomore QB Tyree Jackson (6-7, 245 pounds) passed for 1,772 yards and nine TDs last year, and he’ll test the Gophers defense with his running ability (472 yards). P.J. Fleck recruited Jackson when he was Western Michigan’s coach.

Gophers offense vs. Bulls defense

Though QB co-starters Conor Rhoda and Demry Croft have little experience, they’ll have a 1-2 running punch in Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks. An interesting subplot will be WRs Tyler Johnson and Demetrius Douglas, a true freshman. Advantage: Gophers

Gophers defense vs. Bulls offense

Bulls could test the perimeter, with WR Anthony Johnson. Buffalo C James O’Hagan (on the Rimington Trophy watch list) will face a difficult test in DT Steven Richardson. Advantage: Gophers

Special teams

The Gophers are more than set here, with kicker Emmit Carpenter (above, right) coming off a 22-for-24 season on field goals and punter Ryan Santoso deft at pinning opponents inside their 20-yard line. Bulls kicker Adam Mitcheson was 11-for-18 on field goals last year. Advantage: Gophers


The P.J. Fleck era opens, and there’s sure to be plenty of energy from the new coach. The Gophers shouldn’t have too much trouble against an opponent with which Fleck is familiar from his MAC days. Advantage: Gophers

RJ’s prediction



Maybe some opening-night jitters, but Minnesota’s talent overwhelms a lower-rung MAC team.