Minnesota takes to the road for the first time this season and it’s a bit hard to know what to expect.
The Gophers played Ohio State tough in their opener before falling then squeaked by Miami (Ohio) the next week for their first victory.
Colorado pasted FCS Northern Colorado in its first game and nearly upset then-No. 5 Texas A&M, which was a 17-point favorite, before losing on a late touchdown, 10-7.
The Buffaloes were picked by the Pac-12 media to finish in fifth place in that conference’s South division, ahead of only Arizona.
Minnesota opened as a three-point favorite but heading into gameday the Gophers are now giving 2 1/2 points.
We guess this means expect a close game. The picks for this contest, fittingly, are nearly down the middle, but one team has the slight edge. Which one? Read on.
Here’s this week’s predictions from around the web:
The Associated Press' Ralph D. Russo: Minnesota 21, Colorado 19.
Pete Fiutak of Collegefootballnews.com: Colorado 23, Minnesota 17. "Minnesota will still be able to run the ball. Losing star Mohamed Ibrahim for the season was a huge blow, but Treyson Potts was able to handle the work, running 34 times for 178 yards and two scores against Miami University. He’s not going to have enough room to move this week. Don’t expect a whole lot of points. Both defenses will hold up well, neither side will generate enough big plays down the field to open it up, and it’ll be like pulling teeth at times to get points on the board. At home, Colorado’s defensive front will do just enough to get out on the right side of a close game after just missing on a massive upset over Texas A&M.”
Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller: Minnesota 28, Colorado 24. “Not much is expected from either of those Power Five programs in 2021, but that didn't stop them both from giving a College Football Playoff contender a run for its money. Minnesota led Ohio State deep into the third quarter, and Colorado led Texas A&M until late in the fourth quarter. Neither one was able to pull off the upset, but the winner of this game will be deemed a team to watch out for moving forward. And I like Minnesota to pull off a slight upset on the road, with running back Treyson Potts looking like an adequate replacement for the injured Mohamed Ibrahim.”
Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register: Colorado 28, Minnesota 24. “Altitude and Minnesota's bad defense will be key factors.”
Juan Jose Rodriguez of Athlon Sports: Minnesota 26, Colorado 23. “Both of these teams have squared off with top-10 opponents in the opening weeks. Though neither came out on top in those games, they've been able to pick up some early-season insights on areas to refine their game as they prepare to head into the meat of their season. Look for Colorado's defense to keep Minnesota's offense in check while the Golden Gophers will aim to limit the Buffaloes' second-half scoring and halt a discouraging trend from their first two games.”
J. Brady McCullough of the Los Angeles Times: Colorado 23, Minnesota 21. “The Buffaloes had Texas A&M on the ropes last week but could not muster more than one touchdown in a 10-7 loss. Minnesota has a much softer defense, though, and is still trying to piece together its offense after losing star running back Mohamed Ibrahim for the season.”
Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports.com: Colorado 24, Minnesota 23. “First of all, the Buffs shut down Northern Colorado in their opener. Then last week, they limited an Aggies ground attack that had lost Haynes King to injury early in the game. This allowed the Colorado defense to load the box and force backup Zach Calzada to beat them. He struggled to do so. This week the Buffs face a Minnesota rushing attack that may be without its star but is relentless in its goal to run the ball nonetheless. Minnesota ranks 26th nationally in rushing EPA from non-QBs since the start of the 2020 season, and I think it can control the clock and keep this one close.”
Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News picks Colorado to win giving away two points thus he thinks the Buffalos will emerge with the victory. “Minnesota’s defense isn’t nearly as stout as Texas A&M’s, but the offense will be far more potent. Does CU have the means to score 20+ points against an opponent not named Northern Colorado? Only if the passing game awakens. The task would be much easier with advantageous field position, which means Nate Landman and Co. need to force a few turnovers.”
Saturday Tradition’s Ryan O’Gara: Minnesota 21, Colorado 20. “I wasn’t surprised that Minnesota had to scratch and claw its way to a win against Miami (OH). Even in 2019, when Minnesota started 9-0, the Gophers never won by more than 1 score until the 5th game of the season. The Buffs surprisingly hung with No. 5 Texas A&M and only lost 10-7 after QB Haynes King left due to injury. Colorado seems to overachieve under head coach Karl Dorrell, as it went 4-2 last season. Minnesota, though, may be the B1G’s most resilient program. It weathered all kinds of COVID adversity last year and already has found a way to play without injured star RB Mohamed Ibrahim.”
Mark Hasty of Go Iowa Awesome: Colorado 30, Minnesota 17. “The Gophers have scored 31 points in both of their games this season. That’s the sort of fact that would be interesting if they managed to do it ten more times. The fact that they managed to put 31 up on Ohio State was interesting in Week 1 but became less so in Week 2 once it was clear that Ohio State’s defense has been sequestered away in an undisclosed location in the Hocking Hills, to be replaced by the staff of a low-performing Bath and Body Works. But I digress. Both these teams have played a Top Ten team pretty close, but the Buffaloes have played what I think is the better team right now quite a bit closer. So I’ll take them at home, since this will be the first real defense the Gophers will face this season. Maybe I’m wrong. It won’t matter; no one will see this game since it’s on the Pac-12 Network.”
Nathan Beighle of SportsBookWire: Minnesota 24, Colorado 17.
Joe DiTullio of GameHaus: Minnesota.
Bill Connelly of ESPN: His S&P+ projection has it Minnesota 30, Colorado 27.
All three Athlon Sports analysts pick Minnesota to win.