Miami (Ohio) travels to Minnesota on Saturday for the first time since the 2018 season. Miami has never defeated Minnesota (0-4), with the last meeting resulting in a 26-3 Golden Gophers victory.
The RedHawks can only hope to get off to a better start in this game after getting blitzed early by traditional rival Cincinnati. The Bearcats jumped out to a 35-0 lead last Saturday before managing a couple of late touchdowns to make the final score 49-14.
Minnesota also is coming off a season-opening loss, falling to Ohio State 45-31 on Thursday night. Worse, the Golden Gophers are wrestling with the season-ending injury to star running back Mohamed Ibrahim. The focal point of the offense, Ibrahim will be difficult to replace.
Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck recognizes the challenge of losing a player the caliber of Ibrahim. Fleck remarked, "It's a great challenge to our other backs, a great challenge to everybody else on the team, and everybody else is going to have to be able to play a little bit harder, a little bit better, but that's what a team is."
Miami (Ohio) at Minnesota
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 11 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Minnesota -20
When Miami (Ohio) Has the Ball
Miami head coach Chuck Martin was very direct in his remarks about what the RedHawks need to do versus Minnesota in order to be successful. "We're going to have to be way more efficient in the pass game, and we're going to have to move the football. ... We're going to have to not leave our defense on the field near as much as we did a week ago."
Running back Keyon Mozee paced the run game with 80 yards on 15 carries. But the RedHawks must get better production from their passing game. AJ Mayer, who is starting in place of an injured Brett Gabbert (hurt his knee in the preseason), only completed nine of his 28 attempts for 109 yards against the Bearcats' stout defense.
Minnesota did give up big plays defensively to a potent Ohio State attack, but Miami does not possess the same caliber of skill-position talent. Look for the Golden Gophers to crowd the box, daring the RedHawks to throw while shutting down the run.
When Minnesota Has the Ball
Ibrahim's loss is substantial, but the Golden Gophers will look to regroup behind their veteran offensive line by running the ball with Trey Potts and Cam Wiley. Minnesota can also lean on quarterback Tanner Morgan, who completed 14 of 25 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Ohio State.
The Gophers may benefit from the return of wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell. He missed the season opener but may be cleared to play on Saturday. Autman-Bell would provide Morgan with another quality target to throw to.
Miami (Ohio) surrendered touchdowns on Cincinnati's first three possessions as the Bearcats jumped out to a 35-0 lead. Minnesota will look to its offensive line to wear down the RedHawks. It will be crucial for Miami's defense to make the Gophers earn their yards on the ground and come up with a few takeaways, or it will be another long afternoon.
Minnesota is trying to regroup from the loss of Ibrahim, and this opportunity to rebound at home may be coming at precisely the right time. Miami (Ohio) is a decent MAC team, but the Golden Gophers' experience along the offensive line and overall talent advantage will be too much for the RedHawks to overcome on Saturday.
Prediction: Minnesota 35, Miami (Ohio) 17
Podcast: Week 1 Recap