GOPHERS PREVIEW

Tyler Rushmeyer

>LAST WEEK

Minnesota was thoroughly dominated in its 48-12 defeat at the hands of Wisconsin. Dealing with injuries on both sides of the ball, the Gophers were outmanned and outplayed throughout the contest. The loss helped the Badgers maintain possession of Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the third-consecutive season.

North Dakota State was on the other side of a blowout contest on Saturday, storming to a 45-0 victory over Mississippi Valley State to remain perfect on the season. The Bison used touchdowns from their offense, defense and special teams units to rout the Delta Devils.

HOW THEY STACK UP

OFFENSE

Minnesota’s offense was nearly nonexistent in Madison, gaining just 200 total yards throughout the contest. The Gophers have gained an average of 375 yards per game this season. Two seniors, quarterback Bryan Cupito and wide receiver Logan Payne, will look to recover from one of the worst performances of their careers.

North Dakota State’s offense put up fairly pedestrian numbers in its blowout win, finishing with 273 yards. The Bison have gained an average of 390 yards per game this year. Their offense is led by senior running back Kyle Steffes, who is averaging over 100 yards rushing per game.

DEFENSE

After making strides against Michigan and Penn State, Minnesota’s defense reverted back to a couple of old habits against Wisconsin, all of which led to the blowout defeat. The Gophers are giving up an average of 390 yards and 24 points per contest this year.

North Dakota State’s defense was solid against Mississippi Valley State Saturday, only allowing 130 yards of total offense in the contest. The Bison are giving up an average of 225 yards and 10 points per contest this season.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Minnesota’s special teams played a small role in the Gophers’ defeat Saturday. Sophomore kicker Jason Giannini connected on a 37-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter, while sophomore punter Justin Kucek finished the day with seven punts for 241 yards.

North Dakota State’s special teams unit came up huge Saturday against the Delta Devils, single-handedly putting 22 points on the board. The performance was highlighted by a blocked punt and punt return that were both taken back for touchdowns.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bryan Cupito
#3 Sr. QB

A dejected Cupito didn’t speak to the media after last week’s performance where he finished just 13-of-28 for 94 yards while getting sacked three times. Calling his performance “embarasing” at Tuesday’s press conference, Cupito will look to regain form against the Bison defense.

Kyle Steffes
#23 Sr. RB

Leading the Bison offense this season has been senior running back Kyle Steffes, who is well on his way to his third consecutive 1,000-yard season. So far on the season, he has rushed for 653 yards on 125 attempts for an average of 108 yards per game. In addition, he has scored seven touchdowns.

THOUGHTS ON THE GAME

“North Dakota State is a good, solid, well-coached football team. If you don’t believe me, just turn on the film and watch them play … To be quite honest with you, it’s unimaginable to me that we could overlook anybody.”
– coach Glen Mason

“It’s another step forward in our program and we’re embracing the challenge. They are obviously a well-seasoned and well-stocked football team.”
– coach Craig Bohl