Daily Breakdown: Gophers should continue winning streak against Middle Tennessee

Middle Tennessee upset Syracuse last week 30-23.

Linebacker Jonathan Celestin gets up from tackling a Buffalo player on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Gophers beat Buffalo 17-7. 

Ellen Schmidt

Linebacker Jonathan Celestin gets up from tackling a Buffalo player on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Gophers beat Buffalo 17-7. 

Jack Warrick

Minnesota is now 2-0 in the first season of the Fleck era.

Head coach P.J. Fleck and his Gophers got the first road win of the year after beating the Oregon State Beavers (1-2) 48-14 in Corvallis.

The Gophers will now take on Middle Tennessee (1-1) on Saturday, 2:30 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium. The Blue Raiders are coming off an upset victory against Syracuse, but the team might be without its starting quarterback, Brent Stockstill, who suffered a shoulder injury in the last game.

When Minnesota runs the ball:

In the first game against Buffalo, the Gophers struggled to get the running game going. They had only 169 rushing yards and won by just 10 points.

Last week’s game at Oregon State was a different story, as the running game looked alive with five rushing touchdowns with 253 yards on the ground.

The Blue Raiders held Syracuse to 126 rushing yards in last week’s game, and gave up only 76 rushing yards to Vanderbilt the week before.

Matchup to watch: RB Shannon Brooks vs. LB Khalil Brooks

Advantage: Minnesota

When Middle Tennessee runs the ball:

Middle Tennessee only rushed for one touchdown and 94 yards in last week’s game against Syracuse. The leading rusher on the team, Ty Lee, is a wide receiver with 58 total rushing yards in two games.

The quarterback and head coach’s kid — Brent Stockstill — had just 21 yards on the ground through two games.

Minnesota held Oregon State to 80 total yards rushing and just one touchdown on the ground. The Middle Tennessee State football team is not a running team: running on 59 plays and passing on 67 in the past two weeks.

Matchup to watch: WR Ty Lee vs. LB Jonathan Celestin

Advantage: Minnesota

When Minnesota passes the ball: 

The Gophers air attack had been dominated in the past two games by wide reciever Tyler Johnson. With two touchdowns and 268 yards in two games this year, he has broken out as quarterback Conor Rhoda’s favorite wide receiver.

With Rhoda now solidified as the only starting quarterback for the Gophers, there is more stability in the passing game. Johnson and Rhoda have gone consecutive games connecting in the first quarter for 60-yard touchdowns.

The Blue Raiders backfield allowed 126 passing yards and no touchdowns from the air against Syracuse last week but allowed 296 yards and three touchdowns against Vanderbilt in week one.

Matchup to watch: WR Tyler Johnson vs. CB Darryl Randolph

Advantage: Minnesota

When Middle Tennessee passes the ball:

Stockstill had 269 passing yards with three passing touchdowns in the win against Syracuse. He went 22-36 last week with one interception.

The Blue Raiders’ quarterback has a record 61 touchdowns in his career, and he has over 8,000 total yards in almost three years as the starting quarterback at Middle Tennessee.

His favorite target this year, with 208 yards and two touchdowns is Richie James — a 5 foot, 9 inch, 176 pound wide receiver. The Gophers backfield has allowed 356 yards passing as well as two passing touchdowns this season.

Matchup to watch: WR Richie James vs. DB Kiondre Thomas

Advantage: Middle Tennessee

Prediction: 

Minnesota 34, Middle Tennessee 14

The Gophers running game looked better in last week’s game and its defense allowed only 14 points. Middle Tennessee looked better last week in the upset over Syracuse, but the team doesn’t have much of a running game and still gave up 51 points in two games.

Daily prediction record this season: 2-0

Everything else you need to know

Start time: 2:30 p.m. CST, Saturday, Sept. 16

Network: BTN

Radio: KFAN 100.3

Line:  Minnesota by 9

Minnesota depth chart

Middle Tennessee depth chart