Game Preview: #20 Gophers Travel to Rutgers
It is hard to believe the Gophers are now 6-0 and ranked 20th in the country! After demolishing the Nebraska Cornhuskers last weekend, the Gophers are looking to improve to 7-0 when they travel to Piscataway, New Jersey on Saturday to take on an atrocious Rutgers team.
Minnesota is coming into the game on absolute fire. Since they keep winning, their streak continues. Minnesota has now won eight straight games dating back to last season, which is tied for the fourth longest winning streak in the country behind only Clemson, Ohio State and Appalachian State. They also have not accomplished that feat since the 1948-49 season. Insane, right?
In addition, the Gophers 6-0 start is the first time since 2003, and if they were to beat Rutgers, it will be the first time since 1960 that Minnesota would start 7-0. The Gophers just keep accomplishing things they have not done for years, and it is exciting...and a bit weird
On the other hand, like I mentioned above, Rutgers has been atrocious this season. They won their first game and from there, it all went downhill. The Scarlet Knights are now 1-5 overall and 0-4 in Big Ten play. They have been outscored 216-71 overall, and 165-7 in conference play alone.
Minnesota scored more points in its first three conference games than Rutgers has scored all year. The Gophers scored 112 points combined between their games against Purdue, Illinois and Nebraska, scoring at least 34 points in all three.
As the Gophers have been outscoring opponents in recent games, Rutgers has been doing the exact opposite. They have been shutout three times this season all against Big Ten teams. They lost to Iowa 30-0, Michigan 52-0 and Indiana 35-0. Their only score in conference play came to Maryland in a game they lost 48-7.
To lay on more bad stats, the Scarlet Knights are last in the Big Ten in scoring offense averaging less than 12 points per game. They also rank last in scoring defense allowing 36 points per game, total offense (266.7 yds/gm), and total defense allowing over 450 yards per game to their opponents.
The point I am trying to make is Rutgers has been awful this season. They are having a bad year for Rutgers standards, which are already pretty low. And the Gophers are on fire right now, beating up on every below-average, bottom-feeder team in the Big Ten. Rutgers definitely fits into that category.
With the Minnesota offense averaging over 35 points and 415 total yards per game heading into this week, Rutgers will definitely have their hands full.
Rodney Smith is killing it in the run game with over 675 yards on the season. Both Shannon Brooks and Mohamed Ibrahim have over 200 yards and both have not even played more than three games.
Quarterback Tanner Morgan continues to throw accurately with probably the best wide receiver core in the Big Ten, which includes Rashod Bateman, Chris Autman-Bell and Tyler Johnson. And the offensive line has been the biggest improvement on this Gopher squad. The big guys up front did not allow one sack last week against Nebraska.
And the defense has been playing lights out only allowing 10 points defensively the last two games. The defense has been lead by linebacker Kamal Martin and defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. who have both been making big, impact tackles.
All this firepower from Minnesota is a recipe for disaster for the Scarlet Knights. It should be at least, anyway. The Gophers tend to fall into the horrific "trap game" on a yearly basis. And this cannot be that game. Rutgers is plain B-A-D!
They really do not have a defined quarterback as redshirt freshman Johnny Langan has only started the last two weeks, and has only thrown for 172 yards in both starts. And Rutgers leader in receiving yards so far this season, Rasheem Blackshear is expected to redshirt this season. This takes away experience and talent from an already inexperienced Rutgers team without really any play makers.
Going 7-0 certainly looks likely knowing how bad Rutgers has played this season. The only element going against Minnesota is the fact that they are playing on the road. But I am not so sure that Rutgers is a tough environment to play. I cannot imagine there will be much of a home crowd to make an impact.
Minnesota takes on Rutgers this Saturday at 2:30PM CT on BTN. The Gophers are 28.5 point favorites. I do not think I have seen such a large spread in favor of Minnesota! EVER!
Row the boat, Ski-U-Mah, Go Gophers!