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Minnesota Football: RoWINg to Bowling Green - Opponent Preview

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The Falcons offer one final tune-up for the Gophers

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-1) will wrap up their non-conference slate with a Homecoming matchup against the Bowling Green Falcons (1-2) on Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium.

Can Bowling Green score on offense?

I would not say the Falcons have a prolific offense. Bowling Green didn’t even score a rushing touchdown until Week 3, when freshman running back Jaison Patterson found pay dirt on a two-yard plunge against FCS Murray State. But even with one game under their belt against an FCS program, the Falcons are averaging 53.3 rushing yards per game and 1.9 yards per carry. They rely on a trio freshman running backs, including Patterson, Nick Mosley, and Terion Stewart, who have combined for 155 rushing yards through the first three games.

Senior quarterback Matt McDonald, who transferred from Boston College in 2019, will be under center for Bowling Green. He started all five games of the Falcons’ 0-5 season last year, throwing more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (1). The good news for Bowling Green is that he has already exceeded his touchdown total from 2020 after finding the end zone once against both South Alabama and Murray State. But he has also been sacked seven times operating behind an offensive line with three sophomores and one freshman among the starting five.

McDonald is working with an inexperienced receiving corps led by Washington transfer wide receiver Austin Osborne, who came into this season with one career reception and now has 21 receptions for 153 receiving yards through three games. Sophomore wide receiver Tyrone Broden and junior tight end Christian Sims are among McDonald’s other favorite targets.

Put simply, Minnesota’s defense has an opportunity to replicate last week’s shutdown of Colorado against a Bowling Green offense that is similarly young and inexperienced.

Please tell me the Gophers will be able to score

I would hope so. In their season-opening loss to Tennessee, the Falcons gave up 331 rushing yards to the Volunteers. The average size of a starting defensive lineman for Bowling Green is 6’2” and 275 lbs. The average size of a starting offensive lineman for Minnesota is 6’5” and 334 lbs. One Colorado player said the team got “out-physicaled” in last week’s 30-0 loss to the Gophers and I expect the Minnesota Movers to also impose their will against the Falcons’ defensive front.

It’s tough to get an accurate read on this defense because they’ve improved each week but the quality of their opponents has dropped each week, going from Tennessee to South Alabama to FCS Murray State. What I do know for certain is that the Minnesota offense is more talented and experienced and is likely to give Trey Potts and Mar’Keise Irving plenty of running lanes to exploit.

Don’t expect the Gophers to open up the playbook on Saturday.

But who will score more points on Saturday?

Losing this game would be a Brewster-esque blunder. Minnesota 34, Bowling Green 6.