When: 11 a.m.
Where: Huntington Bank Stadium
Weather: 57 degrees, partly sunnier, 10 mph east wind
Records: The Gophers improved to 2-1 with wins over Colorado (30-0) and Miami of Ohio (31-26) following their season-opening loss to Ohio State (45-31). Bowling Green is 1-2, with a win over FCS-level Murray State last week following losses to South Alabama (22-19) and Tennessee (38-6).
History: Tim Brewster lost his first game as Gophers coach to Bowling Green 32-31 in overtime in 2007. The U is 2-1 all time against the Falcons. At Western Michigan, P.J. Fleck was 1-1 against Bowling Green.
Key matchup: Bowling Green’s offensive variety vs. Gophers defense: The Falcons use a lot of formations and plays with a desire to spread out, misdirect and even trick the opposing defense. Minnesota eliminated big plays in a dominating performance against Colorado and will look to build on it for a second straight week.
Who has the edge?
Gophers offense vs. Bowling Green defense: Minnesota’s No. 1 receiver Chris Autman-Bell returned last week after a two-game injury-related absence to lead Minnesota with four receptions for 79 yards against Colorado, but the U remains a run-first attack. Rushes account for 71.6 percent of plays this season. Bowling Green is 91st in the nation in rush defense (169.7 yards per game). RB Trey Potts’ 34 carries vs. Miami (Ohio) are the most in an FBS game this season, but he should have a lighter load in this game. Backup RBs Mar’Keise Irving and Ky Thomas had strong debuts vs. Buffs. Irving averaged 5.9 yards on 15 carries; Thomas had 9.4 on seven totes, plus his first career TD. TE Ko Kieft has totaled 23 pancake blocks through three games. Bowling Green cornerback Davon Ferguson, a Kansas transfer, is the only player in the nation averaging seven-plus tackles, two-plus tackles for loss per game and four pass breakups this season. QB Tanner Morgan has 49 career TDs and is seven away from moving past Bryan Cupito and Asad Abdul-Khaliq for second all time in U history. EDGE: Gophers
Gophers defense vs. Bowling Green offense: Can the Gophers pitch two straight shutouts? It’s possible because the Falcons’ firepower appears dim. They are outside the top 115 in the nation in points (17.3 per game), rushing yards (53 per game) and total offense (291.7 per game). Bowling Green QB Matt McDonald is 15th in the nation in completion percentage, but has only two TD passes in three games. McDonald “makes it go,” Gophers defensive coordinator Joe Rossi said. After no sacks in two games, Minnesota had four vs. Buffaloes — two apiece from DEs Boye Mafe and Thomas Rush. Rush leads the team in QB pressures. WR Austin Osborne, a Washington transfer, tops Falcons with 21 receptions for 153 yards. Minnesota’s pass defense is middle of the pack this season in yards allowed (160 per game). Six of the eight TDs allowed have been through the air. The U had a season-high four pass breakups against Colorado. S Jordan Howden (thigh) returned after being injured against Ohio State. U players will have to stick to their assignments to not get fooled by the Falcons’ somewhat unorthodox plays. EDGE: Gophers
Special teams: After two strong weeks, K Matthew Trickett missed two field goals (24 and 46 yards) and one extra point against Colorado. The Kent State transfer came back to make a 33-yard FG, and Fleck expressed confidence in him after the game. Bowling Green has two blocked punts. Nate Needham is 5 for 5 on FGs. EDGE: Bowling Green
Prediction: This is a perfect homecoming game for Minnesota. The weather is forecast to be nice, and the opponent appears to be soft. Minnesota should coast to victory, but a 31-point spread still seems like a lot. Minnesota, 38-10