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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 09 Appalachian State at North Carolina

by Sharon Thorsland

I don’t know about you, but I’m done with App State! North Carolina barely escaped yet another barn burner against the Mountaineers, winning in double overtime last week to move to 2-0 on the season. That wraps up the three game series with their in-state rival that also included a home loss in 2019 and last season’s insane 63-61 win in Boone. That’s enough nail-biting for a while! Now it’s on to Minnesota for the first ever match-up between these programs. The Golden Gophers (2-0) visit Kenan Stadium on Saturday, kick-off is set for 3:30 on WBT.

Minnesota is classic Big-10 football. The Gophers play smash-mouth football, boasting an outstanding defense and a solid run game. They rank 8th in the nation allowing just 223 yards per game and have given up just 16 total points. They’ve got a veteran defensive line that has already totaled seven sacks on the season, led by nose tackle Kyler Baugh and defensive end Danny Striggow. The secondary has three interceptions, two of them by safety Tyler Nubin. Elon transfer Tre’Von Jones and linebacker Maverick Baranowski lead the team with 14 tackles each. But UNC quarterback Drake Maye will no doubt be the toughest quarterback they’ve faced this season. And the Tar Heels boast their own power rushing attack, they rank 9th in the nation averaging over 243 yards per game, led by Omarion Hampton, who gashed App for 234 yards and two touchdowns last week. Plus starter British Brooks is expected back from injury this week giving the Heels another weapon on the ground.


The Gophers are a run-first offense averaging 175 rushing yards per game. They’ve got an excellent 1-2 punch in freshman Darius Taylor and grad transfer Sean Tyler, who combined for 286 yards on the ground last week. They have a huge offensive line that averages nearly 6’6 and 318 pounds – averages!

They’ll face a UNC defense that was outstanding in week one allowing South Carolina negative two rushing yards but gave up almost 500 total and 219 rushing yards to App last week. Which defense will show up this week? The good news is, Minnesota isn’t known for throwing the football. Sophomore quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis is only averaging 156 yards per game and has just one touchdown with two interceptions. Senior Daniel Jackson is his go-to guy, he led the Gophers in receiving last season and has 11 catches so far this year. Corey Crooms has 10 grabs, with the longest reception for both being 22 yards.

Minnesota will no doubt look to establish the run and shut down Maye and the UNC offense. The Gophers might be able to get the ground game going, but shutting down Maye won’t happen – he’s just too good and has more firepower than the Gophers. Plus, Minnesota has never beaten a ranked opponent on the road under coach PJ Fleck. UNC should be able to move the football and move to 3-0 on the season. Go Tar Heels!