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The "opportunistic" part of the Gophers football schedule ramps up Saturday with a trip to No. 20 North Carolina, the first of five opponents that either are or have been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 this season.

The Gophers (2-0) head to Chapel Hill coming off a 25-6 victory over Eastern Michigan during which they rediscovered a rushing attack that had produced only 55 yards in the season opener against Nebraska. Behind true freshman Darius Taylor's breakout game of 33 carries for 193 yards, the Gophers piled up 296 yards on the ground and barely let the Eagles touch the football in the second half, when they had possession for 21 minutes, 52 seconds.

"You don't know what a true freshman can do in a game until he goes and does it,'' Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said of Taylor during his weekly news conference on Monday.

Taylor was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week, and another productive game would come in handy for the Gophers, who will be facing one of the nation's top quarterbacks in North Carolina's Drake Maye.

The 6-4, 230-pound third-year sophomore was the ACC Offensive Player of the Year in 2022 after passing for 4,321 yards and 38 touchdowns while rushing for 698 yards and seven TDs. He's projected as a top five NFL draft pick next spring, and he's completed 72.6% of his passes this year for 477 yards and two scores.

"He's exactly as advertised," Fleck said. "He's smooth; nothing rattles him. He's a great runner. He's a great athlete. And he's very accurate. He can do it all."

The Tar Heels (2-0) needed Maye to be at his best on Saturday, when they turned aside an upset-minded Appalachian State team, winning 40-34 in two overtimes. Maye supplied the winning points on a 13-yard TD run in the second OT. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 208 yards and rushed 13 times for 57 yards.

"We're going to do everything we can to shut him down — everything we can," Fleck said. "It's hard."

Controlling North Carolina's offense means more than just limiting Maye. Against Appalachian State, Tar Heels running back Omarion Hampton rushed 26 times for 234 yards, with touchdown runs of 68, 7 and 17 yards. As a team, the Tar Heels rushed for 319 yards and amassed 527 yards of offense.

"They can beat you a lot of ways," Fleck said. "They've got the No. 1 quarterback in the draft coming out. They've got a heck of a running game. They've got really good offensive line play, tight end play. We have to make them put a lot of long drives together if they want to score, and eliminate explosive plays. And get some takeaways.

"That's all," Fleck added with a laugh.

That the Gophers are playing a true road game against a nonconference team ranked in the AP Top 25 is a rarity. This is their first such meeting since they fell 19-17 at No. 25 Southern Cal in 2011 in Jerry Kill's debut as Minnesota's coach. The only other time in this century that the Gophers played a ranked nonconference foe on the road was a 42-17 loss at No. 22 California in 2006. Their last win in that situation came in their national championship season of 1960, when they beat No. 12 Nebraska 26-14 in Lincoln. They are 1-10-1 since 1960 in those matchups.

To secure such a rare road upset, the Gophers figure to need the qualities they showed in the second half against Eastern Michigan: a run game that controls the clock, keeps Maye and Co. on the sideline and opens things up for the passing game to hit some explosive plays.

"We're going to be different than we used to be just because it's a different team," Fleck said. "But the mentality of the team, I never want that to change."