- Date: Saturday, September 9th
- Time: 7:00 PM PT
- Location: Reser Stadium (Corvallis, OR)
- TV Coverage: Fox Sports 1
The Golden Gophers started the 2016 season with a come from behind victory over the Oregon State Beavers and finished with a 9-4 season. All of Minnesota's four losses came during the brutal Big Ten league play, and 3 of those were by a touchdown or less. They capped the season with a spirited win over Washington State in the Holiday Bowl despite being shorthanded. Things were looking up for the Gophers and head coach Tracy Claeys, who was in his first full year as head coach after Jerry Krill had to give up the position due to health reasons. But Claeys was fired at the end of the season when he supported the players in their potential bowl game boycott.
Head coach P.J. Fleck comes into Minneapolis from Western Michigan where he led the Broncos to a 13-1 season. The defense certainly returns some talent, but on the offensive side of the ball the coaching staff will have their work cut out for them. Fleck will have to figure out who will fill in at quarterback after the departure of a three year starter in Mitch Leidner. Then the staff will have it's hands full figuring out who's going to be protecting that new starting quarterback after the departure of three starting linemen (two of them via the graduate transfer route) and getting four of the returners back from surgery. If the Gophers can't get things settled on the offensive line during the non-conference slate, Fleck and company may be in for a long Big Ten season.
Players To Know
Rodney Smith, RB - Smith played a pivotal role in the fourth quarter comeback against the Beavers last year, leading a rushing attack against a worn down Beaver defense. He ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns in the 2016 opener, en route to a 1000+ yard season and 16 touchdowns.
Antoine Winfield Jr., S - Winfield is the son of a former Minnesota Viking, and he definitely shows the pedigree, taking his first career interception for a touchdown. As a freshman, he started nine games in the secondary and tallied 52 tackles.
Steven Richardson, DT - The senior lineman will command a bit of attention this year after leading the defensive line in sacks last season. Richardson will likely create opportunities for his fellow teammates by creating havoc, or opposing teams risk adding to his team leading tackles for a loss.
Tai'yon Devers, DE - Though he was limited with an ankle injury for part of the season, Devers had a heck of a start to his young Minnesota career with two sack-fumbles against the Beavers. I'm fairly certain Darryl Garretson still checks under the bed for Devers.
What To Expect
Minnesota needs to figure out their offensive situation in fall camp when they have some healthy bodies up front. They will have a home game against Buffalo before they travel out west for a late night kickoff (9:00 PM their time) against the Beavers. I expect that offensive woes will keep the Gophers from lighting up the scoreboard and their defense will keep the Beavers in check for two or three quarters before their depth shows. Look for the Beavers to punish the Gophers with a heavy dose of running game to take advantage of this and seek their revenge on last season’s opener.
Prediction: Oregon State 28, Minnesota 14
More Opponents Previews?
Day-by-day over the next two weeks, we’ll be taking a look at all over Oregon State football’s upcoming opponents for the 2017 season. Links to all the other teams previews can be found below.
- Game 1: Colorado State Rams
- Game 2: Portland State Vikings
- Game 3: Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Game 4: Washington State Cougars
- Game 5: Washington Huskies
- Game 6: USC Trojans
- Game 7: Colorado Buffaloes
- Game 8: Stanford Cardinal
- Game 9: California Golden Bears
- Game 10: Arizona Wildcats
- Game 11: Arizona State Sun Devils
- Game 12: Oregon Ducks