Good morning from Huntington Bank Stadium, where the Gophers face Bowling Green at 11 a.m. (ESPNU, 100.3-FM) in their Homecoming game. The Gophers (2-1) have won two in a row, the most recent a 30-0 blanking of Colorado last Saturday in Boulder. Bowling Green (1-2) got its first win of the season last week, beating FCS-level Murray State 27-10 after losses to Tennessee and South Alabama.
What can the Gophers do for an encore after holding Colorado to 63 total yards and posting their first shutout since 2006? Back-to-back shutouts in today's college football world is a lot to ask, but the Gophers should be able to build on their solid effort of last week. They're 31-point favorites against the Falcons as they tune up for resumption of Big Ten play next week at Purdue.
The Gophers are seeking their 22nd nonconference victory, a streak that dates to 2015 and includes four bowl victories. It's the longest active streak in FBS; Iowa entered Saturday with 14 straight nonconference wins.
Bowling Green's best offensive weapon is its quarterback, Matt McDonald, who has completed 71.4% of his passes, tied for 15th nationally. Expect the Falcons to try to spread out their offense from sideline to sideline and use a lot of screen passes. Bowling Green's run game has been ineffective, ranking next-to-last in FBS at 53 yards per game.
Three areas to watch for the Gophers today:
1. Depth at running back
Trey Potts has filled in admirably for the injured Mohamed Ibrahim, rushing for 178 yards against Miami (Ohio) in his first start and following that up with 26 carries for 121 yards and three touchdowns at Colorado. The Gophers also saw true freshman Mar'Keise "Bucky'' Irving rush 15 times for 89 yards and redshirt freshman Ky Thomas carry seven times for 66 yards, including a 14-yard TD run, against Colorado.
2. Special teams
Minnesota's kicking game struggled last week when Matthew Trickett missed field-goal attempts of 24 and 46 yards and clanked an extra-point attempt off an upright. Mark Crawford had a 57-yard punt at Colorado but also shanked a 30-yarder that gave the Buffaloes possession near midfield. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck expressed his faith in Trickett, who kicked a 50-yard field goal against Miami (Ohio).
3. Line dominance
Both the offensive and defensive line for the Gophers were dominant in Colorado, and that should continue today. Minnesota rushed for 277 yards against the Buffaloes, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. The Gophers defense limited Colorado to minus-19 yards rushing, a total boosted by four sacks and eight tackles for loss.