The Minnesota Golden Gophers host the Michigan State Spartans in week seven, with the Spartans fresh off their upset victory over No. 7 Michigan. The Gophers, on the other hand, are trying to rebound from a two game skid against Big Ten teams.
Here are some things to expect this weekend from the game, who to watch, along with game predictions:
Kobe McCrary leads Minnesota backs in scoring – The Gophers need a change on offense to try to jumpstart the offense after two losses. They have scored just 17 points in the second half of the last two games. The offense needs a spark, so turning to the man who ran for three scores against Middle Tennessee will be the move for head coach P.J. Fleck.
Linebacker Chris Frey is the top defender for Spartans – This isn’t a bold statement, but with Frey leading the team in sacks with 2.5. He also has 3.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and five quarterback hurries. He is a monster off the edge and will create a real problem for the Gophers’ pass protection. He finishes with two tackles for loss, a sack and eight tackles.
Eric Carter leads the Gophers in receiving yards – Carter looked good against Maryland and possesses great quickness out of the slot. Top receiver Tyler Johnson will face a lot of double coverage and the Spartans will do everything they can to blanket him. Tight end Brandon Lingen will spend a lot of time helping block on the line or chip on his routes. His timing will be off with quarterback Conor Rhoda, leaving Carter as the best option. Carter will be getting one on one coverage over the course of the game, and mismatches in the slot. He will lead the Gophers in receiving yards because he has the best situation come game time.
Gophers Kamal Martin records another pick – Against Purdue, Martin recorded seven tackles and an interception. Not only was he incredibly important last weekend making plays in space, he will be the most important defender against the Spartans. He will need to play everywhere and clean up the running backs, trying to slip out against the Gophers pass rush. He is particularly important in the red zone, where the Gophers need to make sure check-downs to the flat stay away from pay dirt. Not only does he need to grab another red zone turnover, he also needs to make plenty of tackles.
If Minnesota can be creative offensively and play a full four quarters on defense, they’ll have a real shot to win. The Spartans do not put up tons of points, averaging only 22.4 per game. All Minnesota needs to do is put together three or four scoring drives and play sound defense. The game is not out of reach.
Final Score – Minnesota wins 20-16 in prime time.