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Minnesota hits the road, faces Maryland in Big Ten opener - OPEN THREAD

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3-0 Gophers kick off the Big Ten schedule with a trip to 2-1 Maryland

NCAA Football: Miami (Ohio) at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

This should feel familiar. A 3-0 Gopher squad opens the Big Ten season against Maryland. Things began to unravel a year ago, but this Gopher team is a different one. One that is younger yet more mature, if that’s possible. More than anything I feel like this team has an offensive identity that it was sorely lacking a year ago.

3 KEYS

  • Third Downs - Strangely enough, these two teams lead the Big Ten in defensive 3rd down percentage. With a freshman quarterback and being on the road for the first time, it’ll be huge if the Gophers convert on third down. And obviously even better if the Gopher defense stops Maryland, forcing punt after punt.
  • Pressure on the Quarterback - With a few lineman not participating for Maryland, Temple was able to get all kinds of pressure on Kasim Hill. The Owls had 7 sacks last week as they rolled to a 35-14 win.
  • Stop the Run - Last week the Terps had 195 total yards against that elite Temple defense. Anthony McFarland had 107 of those 195. I’d be thrilled to see the Gophers stuff the run and make Maryland one-dimensional.

OPPOSING PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • #5 RB - Anthony McFarland - Did I mention he had 107 of the team’s 195 last weeks?
  • #33 LB - Tre Watson - Senior linebacker who is racking up a ton of tackles this year. He is second in the Big Ten in tackles.34PREDICTION

I’m rather confident going into this 4th game of the year. The Gophers will struggle, but today is not that day.

Minnesota - 24
Maryland - 20