Everything You Need for Gopher Football vs. MTSU Saturday

Gopher Football (2-0) vs Middle Tennessee State University (1-1):

Where: TCF Bank Stadium
When: Saturday, September 16, 2:30 PM

I love football season. What a weekend.

Alright, so a few storylines have shown themselves leading up to this game on Saturday.

Middle Tennessee State University is looking to use this game as step in building their brand. 

So, I’m not going to attack MTSU for looking at this game as an opportunity they need to take advantage of. It makes sense. That is what all schools want. It is what all businesses want. They want to grow and show their brand in the best possible light, to the most possible people. Nonetheless, I hate the idea of it taking place against the Gophers, in Football, just like basketball. Fleck, Pitino, and every other Gopher affiliate and fan should hate the thought too. Richard Pitino will be a HUGE PJ Fleck and Gopher Football fan on Saturday.

Unlike MTSU, a win by the Gophers wouldn’t be a brand builder. It would be more like a sigh of relief. This is a win that is needed to build the Gopher brand but it isn’t one that will help build the brand on its own. If the Gophers lose this game it will be a hit on what they are trying to build. A win is simply expected. That can sometimes be a dangerous situation against a team that is pretty damn good.

MTSU has a record-breaking receiver – He will be shadowed all game by Antoine Winfield Jr. 

Now this storyline intrigues the shit out of me. Antoine Winfield Jr has NFL aspirations just like his father. He has the talent and work-ethic too. Just a sophomore, Winfield is the best defensive back the Gophers have.  PJ Fleck likes putting his stars on big stages and letting them prove themselves.

Winfield will get his chance this weekend vs Middle Tennessee State’s Richie James. A junior, James has torn up Conference USA since hitting the field in his freshman season. He has over 100 catches in both his freshman and sophomore season and will likely find himself in the NFL. Winfield is embracing the challenge according to Randy Johnson of the Star tribune:

“So far this season, he’s the best wide receiver I’ve seen,” said Winfield, sporting a grin and a twinkle in his eye when talking about his assignment. “This will be the biggest challenge so far.”

Fleck called Middle Tennessee “a scary, scary football team” earlier this week while forming a game plan to counter the Blue Raiders’ scariest player.

“You want to be best vs. best,” he said. “Put your best people on their best people.”

This is the biggest test Winfield has seen and if he can stop this guy, the Gophers should have no problems with Middle Tennessee State University. They have the advantage at about every position.

It is a fluid Gopher QB situation.

Conor Rhoda will be the starter after proving himself to Fleck. Demry Croft will NOT be the backup, nor in the building, and we don’t know exactly why. We know that he likely did something wrong but what he did is anyone’s guess. Seth Green will be the Gopher backup and the closest he has ever been to sniffing TCF Bank game-turf since stepping foot on campus.

Takes and Notes:

The Gophers win this game convincingly. Antoine Winfield is the key and I will be watching he and James all day. If he can stop James, or at least slow him down, half of the Blue Raider offense will cease to exist. That is where the Gophers can really take advantage. MTSU has a decent QB and solid running game but James is their X-factor. It is imperative that Winfield is able to slow him significantly.

Here is everything else we would recommend checking out before the game:

Eric Strack
Minnesota Sports Fan @RealMNSportsFan