South Dakota Preview: Part 1

The Minnesota Golden play their home opener against South Dakota. The two teams haven't played in over 80 years. This will be the 11 meeting between the two teams.

DATE: Saturday, September 11

TIME: 11:01 am (CT)

SITE: Minneapolis, Minn.

STADIUM: TCF Bank Stadium

SERIES: The Gophers lead the series 9-1, as the majority of the meetings occurred between 1904 and 1930. Every game between the two schools has been played in Minneapolis.

RECORD: Minnesota (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten), South Dakota (0-1, 0-0 GWC)

PREDICTION: Minnesota 31-13

KEYS TO THE GAME:

-- Minnesota must play within their identity of being a run-first, ball-control offense. Coach Tim Brewster described the grind-it-out rushing attack the Gophers employed last week as "beautiful". South Dakota's offense is far less potent than what Minnesota faced last week, so if the Gophers can get out to an early lead and wear the clock down, the Coyotes will find it challenging to catch up.

Defensively, Minnesota needs to get more push from their defensive line and tackle better. They didn't record a sack a last week but look for defensive end D.L. Wilhite to put pressure on the quarterback.

-- South Dakota's defensive performance will be critical in its upset hopes. How will the Coyote defense slow down the smash-mouth running style of Minnesota? South Dakota knows the Gophers are going to come out early trying to establish the run and maximize time of possession. The Coyote defense was gashed last week and it will need to stop the Gopher running backs from gaining yards after contact.

Look for South Dakota to bring hard-hitting safety Shane Potter up, close to the line of scrimmage, to try and force the Gophers out of running ball. Offensively, the Coyotes will need to be efficient with their possessions and avoid turnovers. The Gophers only allowed Middle Tennessee State 14 minutes of possession so South Dakota can't squander their offensive opportunities.

FUN FACTS:

Gophers: Minnesota is 9-1 in its last 10 home-openers and 2-1 in home-openers in the Tim Brewster era … The Golden Gophers have played 55 games against current members for the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly 1-AA) … Minnesota is 53-2 in those games for a .964 winning percentage … Duane Bennett produced career-best totals of 30 carries and 187 yards in Minnesota's opener … Bennett also topped 1,000 rushing for his career … The Gophers had 10 first-time starters against Middle Tennessee State, two on offense and eight on defense.

Coyotes: Junior strong safety Shane Potter made a career-high 16 tackles, including 10 solo stops, against UCF. Potter's previous career high was 11 tackles … The Coyotes had nine first-time starters against UCF, three on offense and six on defense … Sophomore punter Cole Zwiefelhofer was named the Great West Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. His 45.7 yards per punt average ranked fourth among all FCS punters in the first weekend of action.

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