Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
In the midst of what looks to be a fairly unspectacular slate of games on the college football schedule this week, at least this side of Michigan State-Oregon, Saturday afternoon’s game between Minnesota and Colorado State stands out as a game that could be decided late in the fourth quarter.
The Gophers emerged from their season-opening loss to TCU fairly banged-up. The most notable player that may miss Saturday’s game is senior safety Damarius Travis, who suffered a hamstring injury last week and has been considered questionable all week. Offensive tackle Josh Campion is slated to return after sitting out last week with a concussion, which is good news for a Gophers’ offensive line that struggled in pass protection against TCU.
Redshirt freshman running back Rodney Smith had a productive game against TCU, with 88 rushing yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. He may be joined by two true freshman for Minnesota (wide receiver Rashad Still and running back Shannon Brooks) in a push for more playing time this week.
Gophers’ quarterback Mitch Leidner needs to be more efficient than he was in the season opener (19 completions in 35 pass attempts), and better protection from a healthier offensive line should help this week.
Colorado State was never threatened by Savannah State in their season opener, on their way to a 65-13 victory at home. The Rams piled up 598 yards of offense, led by quarterback Nick Stevens’ 289 yards and five touchdowns in his first career start and seven catches for 84 yards and a touchdown from star wide receiver Rashard Higgins. Higgins suffered a mild foot sprain last week, but he is expected to play on Saturday.
The bigger concern for Colorado State is their five turnovers last week, which included four lost fumbles. That won’t cut it against a tough Gophers’ defense that is led by an experienced secondary, even if Travis winds up missing Saturday’s game.
This game could go either way, and home field advantage for Colorado State should not be discounted. That being said….
Score Prediction: Minnesota 24, Colorado State 20
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