The Gophers won their first game last Saturday thanks to a record-breaking rushing performance from QB MarQueis Gray, some solid play from the special teams, and a defense that did just enough not to lose. Inspiring? Not so much, but a win's a win, and I'll definitely take it.
Still, how confident are you about Minnesota beating North Dakota State? I'm not even talking about how confident you are in the Gophers blowing them out or winning by a certain margin- I want to know how strongly you believe right now that the Gophers will beat the Bison Saturday night?
NDSU should have plenty of confidence for a number of reason: like any 1-AA team playing a BCS Conference opponent, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Plus, the Gophers' aren't exactly a juggernaut right now and...the Bison won the last time these two teams met.
From what little I've read on NDSU fan message boards (yes, they not only have the interwebs in Fargo, but they have NDSU football message boards) NDSU's fans sure believe they've got a chance. and they're not going to flood into Dinkytown just hoping their team doesn't get embarrassed. They want a win, and considering not only the Bison's recent record against Minnesota, but those of 1-AA schools like South Dakota and South Dakota State, you can't really blame them. You better believe the Bison fans that make the trip (we linked to the Fargo paper today who quoted their associate AD saying 20,000 NDSU fans would be at the game. No way. They might travel that many people, but there will not be 20,000 people in green and gold who actually find tickets to the game) are going to be very loud and proud (thankfully they have millions of miles to go before they're anywhere near as loud and obnoxious as UND hockey fans), and I can't say I blame them.
So where does that leave Gopher fans? Minnesota is definitely a better team, with better talent, size, and no offense to NDSU head coach Craig Bohl and his staff, but better coaching. At least on paper. Bohl joked that Q at 245 pounds is bigger than his defensive ends, which isn't that far from the truth. The Gophers will have a "big" size and talent advantage here, but as we know, that hasn't meant much lately. They were bigger and more talented than New Mexico State this year, and South Dakota, Northern Illinois and others last year. Didn't matter as the Gophers lost games they shouldn't have.
I was "overconfident" last year that Minnesota would handle USD and we know how that turned out. I'm not making that mistake this year, especially after how things went against New Mexico State. The Gophers need to come out strong and act like this is a huge game for them, because this IS NDSU's super bowl. They and their fans have had this one circled on the calendar for awhile I imagine, and are planning to leave the Bank with another win over Minnesota.
I THINK Minnesota won't overlook NDSU the way they admittedly did against NMSU, and they'd better not. It's going to take a full effort from everyone in Maroon and Gold to get it done so that the state of Minnesota doesn't have to suffer more losses and indignity to a neighboring team in green and gold.
Should the Gophers win? Yes. Will they? All I can say right now is I hope so.