Previewing MSU vs. Minnesota

Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE

Game time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: TCF Bank Stadium - Minneapolis, Minn.
TV: BTN
Radio: Spartan Sports Network
Online Streaming: BTN2Go
Opponent blog: The Daily Gopher
Game Week Q&A: Here
Line: MSU -8.5
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It's pretty simple. Win and go to a bowl, or lose and go through an offseason of shame. With it being Thanksgiving, this is a short preview. There's not much left to say, anyway.

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Minnesota's season to date (6-5, 2-5): W 30-27 (OT) at UNLV, W 44-7 vs. New Hampshire, W 28-23 vs. Western Michigan, W 17-10 vs. Syracuse, L 31-13 at Iowa, L 21-13 vs. Northwestern, L 38-13 at Wisconsin, W 44-28 vs. Purdue, L 35-13 vs. Michigan, W 17-3 vs. Illinois, L 38-14 at Nebraska

By the numbers:

337.6: Yards per game for Minnesota, which is 10th in the Big Ten. The 5.1 yards per play are ninth.

365.7: Yards per game for MSU, which is ninth in the Big Ten. The 4.9 yards per play are 10th.

346.5: Yards per game allowed by Minnesota, which is fifth in the conference. The 5.2 yards per play allowed are seventh.

289.4: Yards per game allowed by MSU, which leads the conference, as well as the 4.5 yards per play allowed.

34.9: Yards per punt for the Gophers, which is 11th in the Big Ten

12-for-20: The Gophers on field goal attempts this year. The 60 percent mark is worst in the conference.

138.4: Passing yards per game for quarterback Phillip Nelson His completion percentage is 51.3, and his passer rating is 111.9

19: Catches for Isaac Fruechte, which leads the Gophers after A.J. Barker's departure.
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Three keys for MSU:

Red zone offense: The reason MSU lost to Northwestern. The Spartans fumbled at the goal line, missed a field goal and turned the ball over on downs in the red zone last week.

Run the ball: The forecast says sunny, but the temperature should be below 30 degrees. Andrew Maxwell has had more than 38 attempts in six games this season. With that cold weather, if he has that many attempts, it likely means MSU is in another battle

Do or die: Last chance to dance. The Spartans haven't given up in any game this season, but you'd better leave it all on the field Saturday.

Three keys for Minnesota:

Stop Le'Veon Bell: The strategy all teams have against MSU. Take away the run, make the mistake-prone passing game beat you.

Run the ball: With a young quarterback and a receiving corps now without its top player, the Gophers will need to get something going on the ground.

Senior Day mojo: Minnesota has won its last two Senior Days, both against bowl-eligible teams.

Prediction: MSU 28-14

The Gophers have been pretty ugly the last few weeks, and controversially losing their top receiver probably doesn't help the spirits. With their backs against the wall, I think the Spartans play a solid all-around game, break the seven-game streak of being decided by four points or less and earn a berth in the Buffalo Wild Wings bowl.

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