The Minnesota Golden Gophers picked up a huge victory last week, defeating the Maryland Terrapins for the first conference win the of year. Minnesota will have to continue to overcome an injury to starting senior quarterback Mitch Leidner to make it two victories Big 10 victories in a row.
Leidner has been ruled out for this Saturday’s game against Rutgers according to Yahoo Sports. He suffered a concussion against Iowa on Oct. 8, and he hasn’t played since, so the Golden Gophers should already feel comfortable with backup signal caller Conor Rhoda. In his first college start last week, he was 7-of-15 for 82 yards in the 31-10 victory over Maryland.
The senior starter has completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 1,006 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions in five games. Rhoda is 8-of-16 for 86 yards and a touchdown this season.
Minnesota will likely lean heavily upon its running attack once again. Sophomores Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks each have over 50 carries and are averaging more than 5.0 yards per carry. Junior Kobe McCrary has been impressive too with a 7.3 yards per attempt average. The three backs have combined to score 12 touchdowns in six games.
Against Maryland last week, Smith rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns, including a score for 70 yards, in the blowout victory.
The Golden Gophers are also expected to be without offensive tackle Jonah Pirsig due to an ankle injury. Fortunately, fellow tackle Garrison Wright, who suffered a leg injury against Maryland, will probably play.
Minnesota is 4-2 overall, including 1-2 in Big 10 play this season. With two more victories, the Golden Gophers can clinch their fifth straight bowl appearance.