First Look: Minnesota

Alan Karpick, Publisher
Gold and Black
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Here's an early look at Purdue's next opponent, the Minnesota Golden Gophers:

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Location: Ross-Ade Stadum

Surface: Grass

Capacity: 57,236 (Tickets available)

Records: Minnesota (3-1 overall, 0-1 Big Ten); Purdue (2-2 overall, 0-1 Big Ten)

Series notes: Minnesota leads the series 37-32-3 but has won just six of 26 games in West Lafayette. Yet, the Gophers have posted four wins in a row in the series for the first time in history, with the last Boilermaker victory coming in a 45-17 blowout at Ross-Ade Stadium. It will be the first time the two teams have faced each other with first-year coaches since Joe Tiller's Boilermakers defeated Glen Mason's Gophers 59-43 in 1997 at the Metrodome.

TV: ESPN2

Early line: Purdue -4

Will injuries/suspensions tell the tale?

Purdue hopes its bye week helped it heal some injuries, but it will have two key defenders (Ja'Whaun Bentley and Jacob Thieneman) suspended for the first half against Minnesota after being whistled for targeting in the second half of the home loss to Michigan. Minnesota, on the other hand, has injuries and inexperience in its secondary, so much so that Coach P.J. Fleck said he may move a couple of receivers to its defensive backfield.

Will Purdue be able to run?

Well, Maryland did ... and it was the difference it the Terps winning 31-24 on Saturday in Minneapolis. Maryland rushed for 262 yards. The Boilermakers gained just 30 yards rushing against Michigan, but with the possible return of Markell Jones to the lineup for the first time since the season opener and the unknown status of Tario Fuller, who missed the game with Michigan after back-to-back impressive outings, this will likely be one of the storylines this week.

Is Brohm vs. Fleck a prime-time worthy matchup?

There will be a lot of discussion in media and otherwise about two of the hottest first-year coaches in the Big Ten, let alone the entire country. This isn't Fleck's first trip to Ross-Ade Stadium, however. He lost to the Boilermakers in the season opener in 2014 while head coach at Western Michigan but was a receivers coach for Jerry Kill when Northern Illinois upset the Boilermakers in 2009.

Ross-Ade Stadium has been very lively and crowded in the Boilermakers' first two home games in 2017, but this Saturday marks the beginning of Purdue's fall break with classes not in session the following Monday and Tuesday. Still a crowd in the mid-40,000s is expected, not bad considering where Purdue was last year at this time. It will be an emotional day at Ross-Ade as well, as the 1997 team will be honored with nearly 50 players as well just one week after the death of its coach.

Jeff Brohm on Minnesota

"If you study Minnesota and study Coach Fleck, they’re a ball control football team. They’re going to run the ball. They’re going to be consistent with it. They’re going to try to get third-and-short and then convert that and run a little play-action off it. They do a great job of controlling the tempo, controlling the ball and when they do not turn it over, they’re always going to be in the game in the fourth quarter with a chance to win."

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