NCAA

Eastern Illinois at Minnesota Preview

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minnesotaMINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Big Ten’s Minnesota Golden Gophers went 8-5 in 2013, dropping their last three games including a Texas Bowl loss to Syracuse 21-17 and will host the Eastern Illinois Panthers out of the Ohio Valley Conference fresh off a 12-2 campaign that ended with a 49-39 loss to Towson in the FCS Quarterfinals.

The Panthers return a pair of big yardage backs from 2013 with Shepard Little who rushed for 1,551 yards and Taylor Duncan who added 988. Jimmy Garoppolo will be tough to replace at quarterback, throwing for 5,050 yards in 2013.

Defensive back Jouran Wickliffe (91 tackles, 8 pass breakups, 3 interceptions) and defensive tackle Dino Fanti (45 tackles, 14 tackles for loss) look to hold a defense together that allowed 20 points a game last season.

The Gophers look to continue their run-oriented, ball-control attack on offense led by senior running back David Cobb who rushed for 1,202 yards in 2013. Mitch Leidner takes over at quarterback in an offense that requires efficiency and game management out of the position.

Defensively, Minnesota brings back a lot of experience but must fill the hole left by the departure of Ra’Shede Hageman on the line. The unit’s top two tacklers from 2013 return in Cedric Thompson and Damien Wilson while top pass defender Eric Murray will continue to patrol the secondary.

Keys for Eastern Illinois Win

The Panthers need the two-headed beast of Little and Duncan at running back to be successful against Minnesota’s front seven. This attack will pull the secondary up and create openings to exploit in the passing game.

Keys For Minnesota Win

The Gophers will look to Cobb to control the clock on offense and help minimize the turnovers. Murray’s play in the secondary could be the difference in keeping the Panther’s offense in check.

Key Injuries :

None

Favorite:

Latest Line, N/A

Conclusion:

Both of these teams look to continue building upon their success from 2013 and with both teams having questions at quarterback, this game is likely to be won by the most successful team on the ground.

About Mark West

Mark West grew up playing and loving baseball. In college, he found an interest in writing and reporting on sports. He graduated from Arkansas State University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Radio and Television Broadcasting with a News emphasis and a minor in Political Science. Mark began writing a few years ago informally about politics and sports on various blogs, but has focused primarily on baseball writing for the last two years. He loves Arkansas State Red Wolves baseball and writes about the games and the players for the Red Wolves and the Sun Belt Conference. Mark is a member of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, giving him official votes in the Dick Howser Trophy, Regional Players of the Year, and NCBWA All-America voting.

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