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September 20, 2013

Game Preview: Minnesota-SJSU

The Storyline
The Spartans of San Jose State are coming off an 11-2 campaign in 2012, and are looking to move to 2-1 in their first year under Ron Caragher. For the second straight season, the Golden Gophers of Minnesota look to move to 3-0. Saturday's nonconference contest will be a clash of different schemes on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball at TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota will look to control the clock with their power run game, and San Jose State will look to air it out with quarterback David Fales. This game is very important for both programs as they both move towards conference play.

The Offense
San Jose State quarterback David Fales is becoming a name that many fans are beginning to hear across the country. Fales projects to be one of the first quarterbacks taken in the 2014 NFL draft. A season ago, Fales completed more than 70 percent of his passes while throwing for 33 touchdowns after transferring from Monterey Peninsula College. His top receiver Noel Grigsby will miss the game after injuring his knee during practice this week. Chandler Jones ranks seventh in receptions amongst active FBS receivers. Jones leads the team in receptions with 13 through two games. Jabari Carr also has over 1,000 career receiving yards. The Spartans most talented offensive lineman is Nicholas Kaspar who was a 2012 All-WAC selection. He blocks up front for fifth-year senior running back Jason Simpson. Simpson is averaging 5.6 yards per carry after two games including a 135 yard performance in the season opener against Sacramento State. Expectations were high for an offense that returned many starters, but it doesn't seem like the offense is clicking quite yet. Could this be their breakout week?

The Defense
On defense, San Jose State is led by linebacker Keith Smith. Smith has earned a number of accolades including first-team All-Wac honors last season and second-team All-WAC in 2010 and 2011. He leads the team in tackles with 30. Another talented linebacker is Eugene Taylor. The redshirt freshman leads the team in tackles for loss (2) and sacks (2). The Spartans have no lack of talent at the defensive tackle position. They boast a first-team All-WAC selection in Travis Raciti and a second-team All-WAC selection in Anthony Larceval. They combined for 23.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks in 2012. The defensive backs are led by senior Bene Benwikere who likely has an NFL future. Benwikere had 10 career interceptions and already has five pass break-ups in 2013. On the other side of the field is Jimmy Pruitt who came on at the end of last season as a true freshman. Pruitt ended up leading the team in pass break-ups with 12. Stanford was able to rush for 197 yards and over 4 yards per carry two weeks ago. The Gophers offense will look to do the same against a talented, but somewhat inexperienced linebacking corps and secondary.

The Prediction: Minnesota 23, San Jose State 17


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