FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Defensive tackle Scott Ekpestripped running back Dalyn Dawkins on the first play of overtime and Ryan Santoso kicked an 18-yard field goal, giving Minnesota a 23-20 win over Colorado State on Saturday.
It took extra time for the Gophers (1-1) to get acclimated to the altitude and shake off both their tough loss to TCU in their opener and the scrappy Rams who were playing without their superstar receiver.
The game was dominated by defense until the final minute of regulation.
After converting just 4 of 17 third downs, the Gophers converted a fourth-and-6 pass play from their 40 on their way to the go-ahead touchdown with 55 seconds left -- a 22-yard pass from Mitch Leidner to KJ Maye that put Minnesota ahead 20-17.
But two freshmen came up big for the Rams. Backup quarterback Coleman Key led CSU quickly downfield and Wyatt Bryan calmly kicked a 37-yard field goal at the end of regulation after Minnesota coach Jerry Kill failed to ice him by calling back-to-back timeouts.
The Rams (1-1) sorely missed All-American receiver Rashard Higgins, who hurt an ankle in the opener and sat this one out. His replacement, Jordon Vaden, lasted just three snaps before leaving the game with a right hip injury. He was replaced by Xavier Williams.
Key, who replaced an ineffective Nick Stevens, hit Joe Hansley on a crossing pattern for a 49-yard touchdown to put CSU ahead 17-13 early in the fourth quarter.
Mike Bobo was trying to become the first Rams coach to start 2-0 since Bob Davis in 1947.