Preview: Colorado State at Minnesota

When: 12:00 PM ET, Saturday, September 24, 2016
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Coming off two season-opening victories, Minnesota has spent a bye week prepping for Saturday’s home game against Colorado State. The contest will serve as the Golden Gophers’ final nonconference tune-up before kicking off their nine-game Big Ten slate Oct. 1 versus Penn State.

Senior quarterback Mitch Leidner has been a dual-threat force so far for Minnesota, rushing for 76 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-23 win over Oregon State and then throwing for 295 yards and four TDs in a 58-28 rout of FCS foe Indiana State. Leidner’s four scoring tosses matched a career high, and even more importantly, he’s yet to throw an interception this year after getting picked off 20 times in his first 35 contests. "If you always look for one receiver all the time, it gets a little bit easier to defend," Minnesota coach Tracy Claeys said of his quarterback in his weekly news conference. "He’s definitely going through the progressions and what he’s taught." Colorado State, meanwhile, also is playing in its final nonconference contest and is looking for its first win over Minnesota in four tries.

TV: Noon ET, ESPNU. LINE: Minnesota -16.5

ABOUT COLORADO STATE (2-1): After returning starter Nick Stevens struggled through a season-opening 44-7 loss to Colorado, coach Mike Bobo has turned to backups Faton Bauta and Collin Hill, giving each a start the last two games. And it’s been Hill, a true freshman, who’s made a lasting impression, throwing for 315 yards and four TDs and adding a 51-yard scoring run last Saturday in a 47-21 win over FCS member Northern Colorado. The Colorado State defense has only allowed 35 points since it was blitzed by an improved Colorado team in the opener, and senior linebacker Kevin Davis is a big reason why with 32 total tackles, three sacks and a pair of forced fumbles on the season.

ABOUT MINNESOTA (2-0): Under new offensive coordinator Jay Johnson, the Gophers’ 44-point-per-game average ranks 16th nationally, and they’ve done it with a balanced attack, averaging 221 rushing and 215.5 passing yards per outing. Tailbacks Rodney Smith and Kobe McCrary have both posted 100-yard games this season, and the latter’s 176-yard effort against Indiana State was the fourth-highest single-game total in program history. Linebackers Jack Lynn and Jonathan Celestin lead a defense which looks improved against the run (99 yards allowed per game) after being gashed for 166.4 per outing a year ago.


1. Minnesota snapped Colorado State’s 10-game home win streak a season ago with a 23-20 overtime victory in Fort Collins.

2. The Gophers could also receive a backfield boost Saturday as 2015 leading rusher Shannon Brooks has been cleared to return to practice this week after dealing with a broken foot.

3. Claeys had no update Tuesday as to when the four Minnesota players -- DBs KiAnte Hardin, Ray Buford and Dior Johnson and DE Tamarion Johnson -- suspended prior to the Indiana State game, due to an unspecified violation of team rules, will be reinstated.

PREDICTION: Minnesota 41, Colorado State 20

Stats and Records

Team Comparison

  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Colorado State 2-1 W2 25.7 26.3 2-0 0-1 0-1 0-0 0-0
Minnesota 2-0 W2 44.0 25.5 2-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0

Last Meeting

Colorado State Minnesota
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
9/12/15 MINN 23 CSU 20 314 172 142 413 180 233

Player Stats

Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
CSU C. Key 61.5 91 1 0
MINN M. Leidner 51.1 233 2 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
CSU D. Dawkins 19 92 4.8 1
MINN R. Smith 21 108 5.1 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
CSU J. Hansley 2 59 29.5 1
MINN D. Wolitarsky 9 114 12.7 1
TDs Player TD
CSU D. Dawkins 1
MINN K. Maye 1
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
CSU C. Hill 69.7 341 4 0
MINN M. Leidner 58.9 425 4 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
CSU D. Dawkins 29 156 5.4 1
MINN R. Smith 42 199 4.7 3
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
CSU M. Gallup 9 126 14.0 1
MINN D. Wolitarsky 12 178 14.8 2
TDs Player TD
CSU D. Dawkins 1
MINN R. Smith 3

Quickchart Matchup

Colorado State Off vs  Minnesota Def
374 yards
336.5 yards
5 yards/rush
3 yards/rush
6.2 yards/attempt
6.2 yards/attempt
Minnesota Off vs  Colorado State Def
436.5 yards
408 yards
4.9 yards/rush
2.8 yards/rush
7.3 yards/attempt
9.1 yards/attempt

Matchup Stats - Full Matchup

Colorado State Overall Minnesota
2-1-0 W/L 2-0-0
2-1-0 ATS 1-1-0
0-3-0 O/U 1-1-0
25.7 Pts For 44.0
26.3 Pts Against 25.5
Colorado State A/H Minnesota
0-1 W/L 2-0
0-1-0 ATS 1-1-0
0-1-0 O/U 1-1-0
7.0 Pts For 44.0
44.0 Pts Against 25.5