Minnesota is 3-0 heading into the first game of conference play this season.
After routing Middle Tennessee State 34-3 before the team’s bye week, it now has ample time to prepare for the Big Ten.
The Gophers now take on Maryland (2-1) at home. The Terrapins were impressive early, but suffered a 38-10 loss last weekend to Central Florida.
When Minnesota runs the ball:
After the big performance by running back Kobe McCrary against Middle Tennessee State, it looks like Minnesota has three running backs who can carry the load. Running backs Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith both missed time in the last game, with Brooks not playing at all, and Smith missing the second half.
Head coach P.J. Fleck told reporters Monday that he expects both Smith and Brooks to be ready for the game against the Terrapins.
The Gophers running game is the strong point of their offense, and with Brooks and Smith healthy, they will get the ball.
Matchup to watch: RB Rodney Smith vs. LB Jermaine Carter Jr.
When Maryland runs the ball:
The Terrapins also have an experienced running back with junior Ty Johnson. Johnson has almost 300 yards in three games this season and has three touchdowns so far. His longest run of the season was 74 yards.
Minnesota’s strong point on defense is up front, especially with the linebacker group.
They keep the field short for the opponents’ running games, allowing less than 50 rushing yards against Middle Tennessee State.
Matchup to watch: RB Ty Johnson vs. LB Thomas Barber
When Minnesota passes the ball:
Minnesota’s passing game has been inconsistent this season, with Rhoda attempting 20 passes and 18 passes in the first and third game, respectively, then only attempting eight in the second game.
While wide receiver Tyler Johnson stole the show in the first two games with over 250 yards. In the Middle Tennessee State game, Johnson only got the ball twice for 14 yards.
The Terrapins defense has allowed 96 points in the first three games of the season, and gave up 38 to Central Florida last weekend.
Matchup to watch: WR Demetrius Douglas vs. DB Darnell Savage Jr.
When Maryland passes the ball:
The Terrapins have thrown for over 500 yards this season, and they have scored 124 points over their three games. Their top receiver, DJ Moore, has over 300 yards and four touchdowns this season.
The question for Maryland though is the quarterback situation.
Now that Minnesota is through with co-starters this season, Maryland has had three quarterbacks play this season, and each of them has passed for over 130 yards. The third-string quarterback, Max Bortenschlager, didn’t have much success in relief of freshman Kasim Hill in the last game, he completed 15 of 26 passing attempts, and threw two interceptions.
Now that Hill is out for the season, the starter will be Bortenschlager when the Terrapins visit the Gophers.
Matchup to watch: WR DJ Moore vs. DB Antoine Winfield Jr.
Minnesota 38, Maryland 17
The Gophers running game should have all three backs, and the defense has been consistent all season. Maryland’s situation at quarterback opens up Minnesota’s defense to have a big game Saturday.
Daily prediction record this season: 3-0
What else you need to know:
Start time: 11:00 a.m. CST Saturday, Sept. 30.
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: KFAN 100.3 FM
Point spread: Minnesota by 13
Minnesota depth chart
Maryland depth chart