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Minnesota Football: Wednesday Nugz

Colorado State notes and more

NCAA Football: Quick Lane Bowl-Central Michigan vs Minnesota Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a long bye week, but this Saturday, there will be Real Live Gopher football once again! After watching Wisconsin nearly lose and Iowa actually lose, it will be fun for the Gophers to take the field knowing they have a pretty good chance at a win over Colorado State and a perfect 3-0 start.

Kickoff is scheduled for 11 AM CDT and the game will air on ESPNU.

So what can we expect on Saturday? Expect to see the Gophers run the ball, because...

  • Guess who’s back?! Shannon Brooks has been cleared to play after a foot injury that sidelined him before the season even began. Whether he’ll actually see the field against Colorado State is another matter. He’s listed at #3 on the depth chart, but according to Tracy Claeys, playing time will turn on how well Brooks does in practice (Associated Press, via FoxSports).
  • Guess who’s not back? KiAnte Hardin, Ray Buford, Dior Johnson, and Tamarion Johnson, the four Minnesota players suspended prior to the Indiana State game for violation of team rules have not been reinstated yet. To return by Saturday, the players—all part of an “active investigation”—will need to be cleared by police as well as athletic director Mark Coyle (Joe Christensen, Minneapolis Star Tribune).
  • More from the STrib’s Joe C: With Brooks still questionable, Rodney Smith will probably see plenty of action on Saturday. But don’t count out Kobe McCrary. The transfer from Butler Community College had a breakout game against Indiana State, rushing for 176 yards including a 50-yard touchdown run. He’s inviting plenty of comparisons to David Cobb, including this quote from Mitch Leidner:

Watching him run, everything he does is so similar to Cobb. For how big he is, he’s going to make people miss.

The view from the mountains is a bit different. Colorado State’s season began with a nightmare 44-7 loss to arch rival Colorado. A closer-than-expected win over UTSA did nothing to inspire confidence either. But last week, the Rams bounced back with a 47-21 win over Northern Colorado.

  • The big win in Week 3 was due at least in part to finding offensive rhythm. True freshman quarterback Collin Hill, in only his first collegiate start, lit up Northern Colorado for over 300 yards passing. His teammates are glowing with their praise, and with a genuine passing threat in the game, the playbook has opened up too (Kelly Lyell, The Coloradoan).
  • Junior wide receiver Elroy Masters, Jr. is also making an impact for Colorado State. He was sidelined by injuries last season, but he’s already caught five passes for 86 yards and a score in 2016, and he’s looking to improve on that by going “balls to the wall on every play.” (Mike Brohard, Loveland Reporter-Herald).
  • #HOTTAEKS: The mothership comes in with the hottest of hot takes on North Dakota State: the Bison would be competitive in the Big Ten West. When you’re done laughing and rolling your eyes, go comment over there and tell SB Nation how you really feel.
  • Slightly cooler #HOTTAEKS: The Gophers are just barely in the top half of the Big Ten power rankings right now, and Leidner will need to have a great day passing the ball to overcome Colorado State’s stout run defense. Or something.

And finally, your Wednesday moment of zen: