CU Buffs at Minnesota football: 4 things to know, key matchups and predictions

CU Buffs (0-2 in 2022) at Minnesota (2-0); 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Huntington Bank Stadium, Minneapolis

TV/Radio: ESPN2 / 630 AM, 94.1 FM

Line: Minnesota -27.5, 47 over/under

Weather: 77 degrees, mostly cloudy

What to know

The wrong kind of history? The Buffs, four-touchdown ‘dogs, are trying to avoid their first 0-3 start to a season since 2012. CU opened that slate 1-4 and finished it at 1-11, with seven consecutive defeats leading to the end of the Jon Embree Era after just two seasons and 25 games (4-21).

Happy homecoming. Both sides should know, at least to some degree, what’s coming. For better or for worse. First-year CU offensive coordinator Mike Sanford had the same job with the Gophers at this time a year ago, even pushing the buttons on a 30-0 win at Folsom Field that was one of the nadirs of CU’s 2021 season. Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck elected to let Sanford go after the regular season and Buffs coach Karl Dorrell snapped Sanford up last December.

Size mismatch. If there’s a strength on paper for the Buffs, it’s a veteran defensive line. The problem? Minnesota’s offensive line, its bread-and-butter, is even better. And bigger. The Gophers average 6-foot-5, 316 pounds across its projected starting five, making it one of the largest fronts the Buffs will see all season.

Plenty of payback to deal. CU’s 30-0 home setback to the Gophers last fall was the first time the program had been blanked at home by a non-conference opponent since LSU in 1979.

Key matchups

CU LB Quinn Perry vs. Minnesota RB Mohamed Ibrahim. The Gophers bell cow missed all the fun at Folsom last year after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury in the ’21 opener vs. Ohio State. He’s more than made up for lost time, leading a relentless Gophers rush attack with 262 yards and four scores on the ground and averaging six yards per carry.

CU OT Frank Fillip vs. Minnesota DL Thomas Rush. Rush, Minny’s 6-foot-3, 250-pound senior, was a one-man wrecking crew vs. the Buffs last fall, accounting for half the Gophers’ sacks (two of the four) and a quarter of their eight tackles for loss that day.

Predictions

Sean Keeler, sports columnist: Minnesota 38, CU 7

Before the Buffs’ first two games, you stared at that Vegas point spread — this one’s a whopping 27.5 — and told yourself, “No way. No. Way. That line is crazy.” Well, after two weeks of measured optimism, swinging and missing, no more. P.J. Fleck can pick the score here, kids. If there’s hope, it’s that Captain Rowboat empties the bench early and saves the big dogs for huge games against Michigan State and Purdue.

Matt Schubert, deputy sports editor: Minnesota 34, CU 10

We saw this movie a year ago (in Boulder) and it was a horror show. Nothing leads us to think it will be any different this time around (in Minneapolis). The Buffs offense remains a work in progress … that may never actually progress. The Buffs’ defense can only hold down the fort so long. And while we wouldn’t take the Gophers and the points in this one, we also wouldn’t dare throw a cent on the Buffs. Stay away.

Source: Read Full Article