Gopher Football vs Michigan State:
Who: Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-2, 0-2) vs. Michigan State Spartans (4-1, 2-0)
When: Saturday, October 14 – 7:00 PM
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis MN (TV: BTN, Radio: KFAN)
Vegas: S:+4.5, L:+170, O/U:40
— Minnesota Gophers (@GopherSports) October 14, 2017
This should be an interesting game. The Gophers are reeling after two straight losses to start the B1G season. Michigan State is coming out of a huge victory against in-state rival, Michigan. But the game is at TCF Bank and there are some that aren’t convinced Michigan State is for real.
The Gophers are underdogs and rightly so. But, can they come out with a surprise win against a confident Michigan State team? It definitely doesn’t look good. The Gophers don’t matchup well, especially on offense. They struggle with big plays, ranking 118 nationally. Michigan State is one of the best defenses in the league against big plays, ranking 5 nationally.
According to Ryan Burns of GopherIllustrated, the Gophers are running 70/30 run/pass ratio. Teams are stacking the box making, the running difficult. Burns thinks we need to have some big plays in this game. I don’t think that is as important as just passing the ball period. If you think Conor Rhoda is your guy then have him pass the ball. Otherwise, get him out and try the next guy (Croft, Greene). You have a quarterback to throw the ball. If teams are going to make him throw it, then let him prove that he can.
The offensive line is very young. The Gophers are one of the youngest teams in the league, overall. With the defense looking to stack the box and stop the run, combined with the inexperienced line, I would expect Kirk Ciarrocca to try some gadget plays in order to keep the defense on their toes.
Outside of that, the Gophers need to try and hold it together in the secondary with all the injuries they have. A defensive game is the Gophers’ best chance to win, so the defense needs to bring it. With all the injuries in the secondary, the front 7 are going to have to play well and bring pressure. Michigan State has a QB, in Brian Lewerke, that leads the team in both passing and rushing which means the Gophers need to contain him and make him THROW the ball under pressure. You cannot pressure him and let him get loose with his feet.
If the Gophers can win the turnover battle, keep it a defensive game, and keep the time-of-possession close, they have a shot. It really helps that they are under the lights, at home, with what should be a 3/4 inebriated crowd.
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