Date/Time: Sept. 24, 2022 / 2:30 p.m. CT
Site: East Lansing, Mich.
Stadium: Spartan Stadium
Surface: Natural Grass
Series Overall: Minnesota Trails 17-30
Streak: Minnesota Lost 5
Series in MI: Minnesota Trails 6-17
Streak: Minnesota Lost 3
Last Meeting: Minnesota lost 30-27 in Minneapolis (10/14/17)
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
1. Minnesota football, which is receiving votes in both the AP and Coaches Polls, opens up Big Ten play and goes on the road for the first time this year Saturday as it visits RV/#21 Michigan State. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network.
2. Minnesota enters Saturday’s contest ranked second in the nation in both total offense and total defense. The Golden Gophers are averaging 554.7 yards of offense per game, while allowing just 170.3 yards per contest. They boast the No. 2 rushing offense (312.7 ypg) and No. 9 rush defense (69.7 ypg) along with the 19th-ranked passing efficiency offense (173.8 rating) and 10th-ranked passing efficiency defense (85.25 rating). Georgia is the only other program with its total offense (6th) and total defense (13th) both ranked in the top 15. For good measure, Minnesota also has the No. 7 scoring offense (49.7 ppg) and No. 4 scoring defense (5.7 ppg). With 149 points scored and just 17 allowed, the team’s scoring differential of +132 ranks second nationally behind only Michigan (+149).
3. The 149 points through the first three games of the season is fourth most in Minnesota history. The only higher-scoring starts came in 1904 (259 points), 1905 (170) and 1916 (169). Along those lines, the Maroon and Gold’s scoring differential of +132 through three games is also fourth best. Those same years, 1904 (+259), 1905 (+170) and 1916 (+155) are the only years with a better scoring margin through two games. The 17 points allowed through three games is the second best for Minnesota since 1961 with only 1999 (14 points) being better. The Gophers have won each game this year by at least 38 points, their first streak of three games or more since the 1916-17 seasons.
4. Now 3-0 on the season, the Gophers are looking to start 4-0 for the second time in six years under P.J. Fleck and the 36th time in program history. The other instance under Fleck came in 2019 when they started 9-0. Dating back to last year, Minnesota has won six games in a row. That’s tied with UCLA and Coastal Carolina for the third longest active winning streak in the country. Only Clemson (9) and Kentucky (6) are currently on longer streaks.
5. The 2022 campaign is the sixth for head coach P.J. Fleck at Minnesota, where he holds a record of 38-23. He is already sixth in program history for wins and Big Ten wins (21), and is seventh in games coached (61). A win Saturday would tie him with Cal Stoll (39-39, 1972-78) for fifth in program history. Fleck’s .623 win percentage is third best among the 11 Minnesota coaches with at least 45 games under their helm behind only Henry L. Williams (.786, 1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (.716, 1932-41, ’45-50). Through his first five years at Minnesota, only Williams (55, 1900-04) had more wins than Fleck’s 35. In his 10th season overall as a college head coach, Fleck is 68-45 (.602).
Gopher offensive lineman Nathan Boe of Lakeville spoke with MNN sports director Mike Grimm about the game:
(info and photos courtesy of Gopher Sports)