2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - NMSU at Minnesota
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- New Mexico State 28 … at Minnesota 21
(AP) MINNEAPOLIS -- New Mexico State's 28-21 victory at Minnesota on Saturday afternoon was overshadowed by a health scare for Gophers head coach Jerry Kill, who had an apparent seizure on the sideline and was taken from the stadium by ambulance with 20 seconds left in the game.
Andrew Manley passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns for the Aggies (1-1), who beat a Big Ten team for the first time in program history. The Gophers had the ball at the New Mexico State 25-yard line and were trying for the tying touchdown when medical personnel suddenly surrounded Kill. He was on his back, and at times his arms and legs were flapping back and forth.
After about 15 minutes, Kill was hoisted on a stretcher and rolled off the field as the crowd clapped and chanted his first name.
MarQueis Gray had another uneven performance at quarterback for the Gophers (0-2), who haven't lost their first two games to start a season since 1992, which was Jim Wacker's first year on the job.
Manley completed his first 12 passes, the last a 4-yard strike to backup tight end David Quiroga that stretched the NMSU lead to 21-7 with 6:53 left in the first half.
The Aggies set the tone from the start with a six-play, 60-yard drive. Manley hit Rogers for a 26-yard score, with cornerback Brock Vereen and safety Shady Salamon failing to reach Rogers in time.
Gray helped lead the Gophers on an 88-yard drive for a tying touchdown, a short run by Lamonte Edwards, but the majority of his throws were off the mark. McKnight made a handful of acrobatic catches, and tight end Colin McGarry dived to haul in a 10-yard score in the corner of the end zone and pull the Gophers within 21-14 right before the half.
Manley wasn't highly recruited, and head coach DeWayne Walker said he didn't have the job locked down when the season started. But he looked crisp early, completing his first 12 passes.
He made some bad throws, including two interceptions, but showed some poise and had help in the backfield from Robert Clay, who rushed 20 times for 97 yards and a touchdown. Taveon Rogers had 88 yards receiving and two scores.
Gray, who was relieved briefly in the third quarter by freshman Max Shortell, finished with 110 yards rushing on 17 attempts. He went 16 for 32 through the air for 211 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Gray threaded a perfect pass to Da'Jon McKnight on a quick post route for a 4-yard touchdown with 11:47 left, pulling the Gophers within 28-21.
He nearly tied the game later on a rollout with a head-first dive at the pylon with 7:51 left, and the initial ruling on the field was a touchdown. But a replay review determined his foot was out of bounds. On fourth and 1, Edwards was stopped and NMSU took over.
Clay and Victor Johnson ground down the clock for the Aggies, and the Gophers didn't get the ball back until 2:09 remained, starting at their own 11-yard line with no timeouts.
Gray was at his best on this final drive, but after a 13-yard scamper and a quick spike to stop the clock, Kill went down.
After the distracting delay, Gray went 0 for 3 on his last three passes and the Aggies emerged with their first win over a team from a BCS conference since beating Arizona State in 1999.
New Mexico State (0-1) at Minnesota (0-1) Sept.
10, 3:30, BTN
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Here's The Deal … Minnesota played better than anyone expected at USC, and despite getting bombed on by the record-setting Matt Barkley-to-Robert Woods combination, had the puck on its stick in the final minutes with a chance to win. New head coach Jerry Kill is good enough to not be happy with moral victories, but for a program that's been so mediocre for so long, a 19-17 loss in Los Angeles isn't bad. Now, though, is when the Gophers have to go to work.
Minnesota always seems to have inexplicable struggles in the games they need to win in blowouts. Last year it was the home opening gaffe against South Dakota, in 2009 it was a close call against South Dakota State, and this year, even with North Dakota State on the slate in a few weeks, beating a bad New Mexico State team like a drum is a must. With a tough game against Miami University up next, this is when the Gophers have to show that they're going to be Big Ten-good under this new coaching staff, and it needs to prove that they can roll at home against the lousy teams.
New Mexico State came out of the gate struggling, doing nothing on the ground and having no help from the run defense in a 44-24 home loss to Ohio. The DeWayne Walker era just can't seem to get going, with every positive, like the passing game last week, dragged down by several negatives. The offense should be just interesting enough to push the Gopher secondary, but if the D doesn't come up with something new in a hurry, it'll be another blowout.
Why New Mexico State Might Win: The passing game. Ohio's secondary was supposed to be the negative of the defense coming into the season, and it was picked apart by an Aggie passing game that's going to bomb away in every game to try to keep up with its lousy defense. QB Andrew Manley threw for 362 yards and two touchdowns, spreading the wealth around to four main targets. USC was able to light up Minnesota like a Christmas tree with one star, Woods, who caught 17 passes for 177 yards and three scores, while Barkley threw it 45 times. Manley will put it up at least 45 times and he'll keep the pressure on the Minnesota secondary all game long.
Why Minnesota Might Win: The Gophers should be able to run wild all game long. The ground game never got going against USC's terrific defensive front, but there won't be the same sort of problems against an Aggie defensive line that had no chance whatsoever last week against the Bobcats. Ohio tore off 241 yards and three touchdowns with five different players running for 33 yards or more, and with quarterback Tyler Tettleton running for 40 yards and two scores. Kill would love for Minnesota to be a running team, and this is the chance to become on. Defensively, forget about any semblance of a New Mexico State running game; the Gopher linebackers will spend all their time worrying about the midrange passing game.
What To Watch Out For: The Minnesota quarterback situation suddenly became interesting. There wasn't any question going into the season about who the main man was going to be, with MarQueis Gray expected to become a special star in the Kill attack. He struggled against USC, completing 7-of-12 passes for 94 yards while running 16 times for 47 yards, and then he got dinged up and replaced by true freshman Max Shortell, who came up with a solid game considering he was thrown to the wolves. The 6-4, 205-pounder isn't nearly the runner that Gray is, but he can throw. However, if Minnesota is going anywhere this year, Gray has to be fantastic.
New Mexico State's defensive front is so lousy that the secondary has to clean up too many messes, and that's where Donyae Coleman comes in. The 5-10, 187-pounder stepped in from Compton College as a wide receiver and saw a little time on the offensive side, but he quickly showed that he can produce as a defensive back with 92 tackles. Last week he made 14 stops with a pick and a fumble return. If he's not the best defensive player on the field, he'll be a close second.
What Will Happen: Kill will rotate the quarterbacks, and they'll both produce. Gray will bounceback to run for at least two scores, while Shortell will get meaningful minutes to get a bit more time in the system. Manley and the Aggies will throw for well over 300 yards, but it won't be nearly enough against a Gopher attack that should explode.
CFN Prediction: Minnesota 48 … New Mexico State 23
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Minnesota -20 O/U: 52
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