Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Fresno State Bulldogs Game Preview

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Joe Broback

Contributor at Champion Insiders
Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
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Both teams head into this game with disappointment. The Fresno State Bulldogs came up short against USC in a game they committed three turnovers, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers needed a late comeback to beat FCS South Dakota State. A bounce back is what both teams need, but only one will do that. Minnesota survived the Bulldogs last year, and might need to do that again. If Minnesota wants to compete in the Big Ten West, they need a better showing this week. SDSU was a good team, but this Gophers team should be immensely better than what they showed last week.

How to watch: CBS Sports Network
Start time: 9:30pm CT
Line: Minnesota -3.5
Location: Bulldog Stadium (Fresno, CA)

Minnesota Golden Gophers keys to the game

  • Establish the run
  • Spring Tyler Johnson loose
  • Force turnovers

Fresno State Bulldogs keys to the game

  • Ball security
  • Force the pass
  • Hang on tight against Minnesota’s receivers

Why Minnesota wins

After last week, there aren’t any guarantees the Minnesota Golden Gophers will win. The line for this game reflects that. Still, they’re the more talented team. We’ve seen the potential from the receivers with the emergence of Rashod Bateman last week. South Dakota State took Tyler Johnson away from the Gophers game plan, and Bateman stepped up. Fresno State has their hands full with those two. The biggest way the Gophers can pull away is to force turnovers. Bulldogs quarterback Jorge Reyna committed three turnovers last week (one interception and two fumbles), and Minnesota will look to add to that number. Minnesota needs to start quicker by establishing the run earlier. Up until their last two drives, they only had 73 yards rushing. With the plethora of talent in their backfield, that’s unacceptable.

Why Fresno State wins

Last year’s loss against the Gophers stung. A late interception by Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. ended the game with the Bulldogs inside the Gophers 20. They believe they can win this game, and the line reflects that as well. To start, Reyna needs to take care of the ball better. His three turnovers proved to be costly in their 31-23 loss to USC last week. For Fresno State to even have a chance, he needs to keep the ball in his hands. The Bulldogs defense will have their hands full with Minnesota’s receivers too. If they can limit Johnson and Bateman’s effect on the game, they have a chance.

Prediction

With both teams looking to bounce back, consistency becomes key. Minnesota looked completely flat against the Jackrabbits, but the Bulldogs also cost themselves a chance at an upset. Expect another close one between these two. MINNESOTA 24 FRESNO STATE 20

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