Keys to the game
Stop the Toledo running game
Toledo passed for 3,339 yards last season, but also showed good balance as they rushed for 2,214 yards. However, the Rockets were just 1-3 in games that they rushed for 120 or fewer yards last season. The Rockets rushed for 94 yards in their 28-18 opening-game loss at UNLV, 90 yards in 35-31 upset win over then #9 Pittsburgh, 76 yards in 34-7 loss to Syracuse and 120 yards in 38-14 loss at Ball State.
Use Dome Field advantage
The Rockets were just 2-4 on the road last season and lost by 10, 27, 24 and eight points away from home. The Gophers need to jump out to an early lead and pound the ball on the smaller Toledo defense. The Rockets use a 4-2-5 defense with their defensive ends weighing just 254 and 225, respectively. Their two defensive tackles are redshirt freshmen who are playing in their first college game.
Take the pressure off Cupito
Bryan Cupito is starting his first college game, so look for the Gophers to utilize their outstanding running game to ease him into the action. The Gophers return Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber, who both rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. Head coach Glen Mason has also been high on redshirt freshman Amir Pinnix and true freshman Gary Russell, who could also see action. Look for the Gophers to attempt to reach the 300-yard mark in rushing in the season opener.