Minnesota 29 … at Miami University 23

Posted Sep 17, 2011

Week 3 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Miami Univ. at Minnesota

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 3 - Miami Univ. at Minnesota

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Sept. 17 Minnesota 29 … at Miami University 23
CFN Analysis: COMING

(AP) MINNEAPOLIS -- Coach Jerry Kill returned to the Minnesota sideline one week after suffering a seizure during a game and watched Marqueis Gray rack up 334 total yards in a 29-23 victory over Miami (Ohio) on Saturday.

Gray threw for 163 yards and rushed for 171 more and Duane Bennett blocked a punt and recovered in the end zone to hand Kill his first victory as coach of the Golden Gophers (1-2).

Zac Dysert threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns and Nick Harwell had 12 catches for 162 yards for the RedHawks (0-2). Miami drove the ball to the Minnesota 20 in the closing moments, but Dysert's pass to Chris Givens in the end zone was broken up as time expired.

Kill made it through the game without incident, a big relief to Gophers fans and his players who watched him collapse at the end of last week's loss to New Mexico State.

Miami University (0-1) at Minnesota (0-2) Sept. 17, 3:30, BTN

Here's The Deal … It's not possible to come up with a worse loss than Minnesota suffered last week. Not only did the Gophers come off the momentum of the decent performance against USC by clunking against a New Mexico State program that hadn't beaten a BCS conference team since 1999. Worse yet, in his home debut as the new head coach, Jerry Kill suffered a frightening seizure on the sidelines late in the game. While Kill is fine, his team needs a big win in a bad way to turn things around now. With North Dakota State up next, the chance is there to be 2-2 before going to Michigan, and with the way Kill is able to get the ground game going – at least with the way he did it at Northern Illinois – Minnesota should be a dangerous team as the season goes on.

The last time Miami went against Kill was in the 2010 MAC Championship game, coming away with a stunning upset victory. This Minnesota team isn't as good as last year's Huskies, and the RedHawks will look to take advantage after having two weeks off to lick their wounds from the tough 17-6 loss to Missouri. The pieces are in place for another conference title, and it all kicks off next week against Bowling Green.

Why Miami University Might Win: How in the name of Joe Salem did Minnesota lose to a team as miserable as New Mexico State? The secondary broke down way too often for the second week in a row.

After getting lit up by Matt Barkley and Robert Woods in a record-setting performance at USC, the Gophers couldn't handle Andrew Manley and the suddenly hot Aggie passing game, giving up 288 yards and three touchdowns. Miami quarterback Zac Dysert is far better than Manley and knows how to get the short to midrange passing game going well enough to give the Gopher back seven problems.

Defensively, MU was terrific against Missouri's passing game two weeks ago, getting off the field by only allowing the Tigers to convert three of 13 third down chances. Minnesota inexplicably converted two of 12 third down chances against NMSU.

Why Minnesota Might Win: The run defense has been a major plus so far. It's partly because USC and NMSU had too much success through the air to bother running the ball, but even so, Minnesota was effective when it had to be. USC only ran for 67 yards, and the Aggies ran for 133 yards and didn't break off any big runs. Miami can't run, using the short pass as its version of a ground attack. If the Minnesota linebackers can be disciplined and can stay at home and led the MU receivers come to them, they should be successful.

For a team struggling like Minnesota, good field position is a must. After two games, the punting game has been a major positive averaging 43 yards per boot, with Dan Orseske coming up with two consistently fantastic performances. It's only been one game, but MU hasn't been great punting the ball. The overall average is down because Dysert pooched a punt inside the 20, but Zac Murphy wasn't much better.

What To Watch Out For: Kill is expected to be fine after spending the week in the hospital for observation. He's been working on the gameplan from his bed, and the assistants are expecting the head man to be on the field, but if he's not it'll be up to defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys to run the show. Kill suffered a seizure a few years ago during a game, and he came back the next week.

On the field, Minnesota needs even more out of MarQueis Gray, who got past a shaky opener against USC to complete half his passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns, and run for 110 yards, in the loss to NMSU. The RedHawks held mobile quarterback James Franklin in check in the loss to Mizzou, but Gray is bigger, more athletic, and more dangerous. Now he has to show the team that he can move the chains and can get the offense moving. He has to start putting points up on the board.

What Will Happen: Kill will be back, but Miami will beat him for the second time in a row. The MU offense that couldn't click against Missouri will start to get moving a bit better against the Gophers. The RedHawks will control the clock and the game from the start, and Minnesota will press. When Minnesota starts to press, the mistakes will come. After throwing two picks last week against NMSU, Gray will throw two more in key moments as the slide continues.

CFN Prediction: Miami University 24 … Minnesota 21
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Minnesota -4.5  O/U: 46.5

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