Minnesota vs. Fresno State: Game Preview, Kick Time, TV & Radio Schedule, Livestream, Prediction
The Bulldogs head home for a revenge game against the Golden Gophers. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for.
A crucial game for both teams.
WEEK 2: Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-0) vs Fresno State Bulldogs (0-1)
WHEN: Saturday, September 7 — 7:30 PM PT/8:30 PM MT
WHERE: Bulldog Stadium; Fresno, California (40,727)
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAM: You can find CBSSN and other sports broadcasts with a free trial of FuboTV. Click here for more information.
RADIO: The Fresno State broadcast can be found around the Central Valley on ESPN 940 AM, while the Minnesota broadcast can be found in and around the Twin Cities on KFAN 100.3 FM. The game can also be accessed on satellite radio, as well, through Sirius channel 119 and XM channel 196.
SERIES RECORD: Minnesota leads the series 1-0. In the lone previous meeting on September 8, 2018, the Golden Gophers defeated the Bulldogs, 21-14, in Minneapolis.
LAST WEEK: Minnesota survived a challenge on its home turf from FCS power South Dakota State in a 28-21 win. Fresno State couldn’t overcome a slow start on the road against USC and fell short in a 31-23 defeat.
ODDS (via OddsShark): Fresno State +3
FEI PROJECTION: Fresno State by 0.1
SP+ PROJECTION: Minnesota by 2.4 (56% win probability)
After a frustrating and disappointing defeat at USC, the Fresno State Bulldogs return to the Central Valley and host the Minnesota Golden Gophers in their home opener.
Last year’s game against Minnesota, decided by mere inches, is one that those with long memories will remember for a while. They return many of the same playmakers
Here’s how the Bulldogs can get the home win against the Gophers.
Three Keys to a Fresno State Victory
1. Get pressure on Tanner Morgan.
USC thrived early last week because J.T. Daniels, his quick release, and his skilled receivers got the better of a secondary that needed time to settle in. Minnesota doesn’t run the Air Raid, though, and the junior Morgan isn’t of Daniels’ caliber, but the Gophers have similarly potent weapons in the passing game so there’s pressure on the front seven to do better than they did in Week 1.
Fresno State didn’t force the Trojans into many third-and-medium/long situations last week, but they had success when they could: Daniels and backup Kedon Slovis combined for just one first down on five third-and-four-or-more attempts. Creating more obvious passing situations, however, also means…
2. Stop the run on early downs.
Compared to USC, Minnesota has a plodding offense, but the running back tandem of Mohamed Ibrahim and Rodney Smith could show better than they did against South Dakota State if the Bulldogs can’t get a consistent push up front.
P.J. Fleck clearly wanted to establish the run against the Jackrabbits, but the Gophers lost effectiveness on the ground with each subsequent down, averaging 4.16 YPC on first downs and dropping to 3.07 on second and 0.57 on third. Fresno State, meanwhile, allowed an uncharacteristic 5.57 YPC on first and second downs, meaning whichever team is able to better reverse their fortunes could have a significant upper hand.
3. Get the running game going.
Much of South Dakota State’s upset bid derived from their ability to average 5.1 YPC with their own ground game. If not for their two turnovers, the narrative after the game might have been very different.
Ronnie Rivers only had 14 carries in part because the Bulldogs needed the passing game to rally back from its early deficit, but Fresno State can’t expect to win this game if quarterback Jorge Reyna is the team’s leading rusher again. The designed runs that Reyna had saw some success, as did the occasional end-around to true freshman receiver Jalen Cropper, but the offensive line will need to win against a Gophers front that had just two tackles for loss against the Jackrabbits, no matter the mix of creativity and smashmouth.
Both Fresno State and Minnesota looked shaky in their respective openers, which means that both teams will be motivated to prove Week 1 was an aberration rather than a trend. While the Gophers may not possess USC’s team speed, they have enough offensive playmakers to pose a problem to a defense that, despite creating four turnovers, looked vulnerable for long stretches against the Trojans. Combined with a shaky running game and a potentially erratic quarterback, it strikes me as the kind of game Fresno State might let slip away with one too many mistakes… again.
Minnesota 27, Fresno State 24