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#20 North Carolina Beats Gophers 31-13

North Carolina Beats Gophers

Drake Maye threw for 414 yards, and #20 North Carolina beat the Gophers 34-31. The Tar Heels quarterback finished the day 29 for 40 and threw two touchdowns and two interceptions. UNC wide receiver Nate McCollum had a career day with 15 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown. It was an uncharacteristic performance for Joe Rossi’s defense, which allowed 519 yards and 26 first downs. The Gophers fell to 2-1 on the season, while UNC improved to 3-0.

Offense Struggles

Minnesota quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis struggled again and finished 11 for 29 for 133 yards, an interception, and an abysmal QBR of 28.6. Backup quarterback Cole Kramer came in for one play, and his only attempt was picked off in the endzone. Corey Crooms led all Gopher receivers with four catches for 46 yards. Through three games, the Gophers have averaged 148 yards passing per game, which is ranked 114 out of 133 FBS teams.

The lone offensive bright spot was Darius Taylor, who made his first career start for the Gophers. He finished with 22 carries for 138 yards and a touchdown. He is the first true freshman to rush for over 100 yards in consecutive weeks since Laurence Maroney in 2003. Taylor has had ten rushes of over ten yards so far this season. Sean Tyler, who started the first two games, had three carries for two yards on the day.

The Gophers’ offense is averaging 17 points per game and is ranked 101 out of 133 FBS teams. They average 174 rushing yards and 148 passing yards per game, which is ranked #39 and #114 in the FBS, respectively.

Defensive Woes

The Gophers entered the game ranked in the top 10 in total defense and scoring defense but could not stop Maye and the UNC passing game. Maye was ranked #54 in FBS passing yards entering the game but is now ranked #17 in the country. The Gophers stopped the Tar Heels rushing attack for most of the day and held UNC to 105 total rushing yards. Omarion Hampton rushed 13 times for 46 yards and had one touchdown. The Tar Heels entered the game ranked ninth in the country at 243.5 rushing yards per game.

Minnesota had a hard time stopping North Carolina on third downs, who converted 12 of 17 attempts. North Carolina beat the Gophers with explosive plays and had four over 38 yards, all of which contributed to Tar Heel points. Conversely, Minnesota was 3 for 12 on third-down conversations and had only one play over 26 yards.

Players Making Plays

  • Greg Johnson made his collegiate debut for the Gophers and became the first true freshman to play on the offensive line since Daniel Faalele in 2018.
  • Jack Henderson led the Gophers with 11 tackles (eight solo) and had an interception, a tackle for loss, and a pass breakup
  • Maverick Baranowski had a career‐high 10 tackles
  • Darius Green finished with a career‐high eight tackles
  • Chris Collins recorded his first career interception
  • Darius Taylor has rushed 55 times for 331 yards and two touchdowns in the past two games

Prediction Grade: B+

Here is our original prediction about the game:

The Tarheels average 35.5 points per game, and the Gophers have allowed eight points per game, so something has to give. North Carolina should be able to move the ball, but the Gophers should prevent a high-scoring game. Rossi’s defense will hold the Tarheels to their lowest point total on the season.

North Carolina has allowed 25.5 points per game this season but has successfully gotten to the quarterback. The Gophers will lean on Taylor and Tyler to establish the run game and limit pressure and mistakes by Kaliakmanis. The Gophers’ passing attack has been inconsistent, and it won’t improve against North Carolina in a tough road game. Projection: Gophers lose 27-17

The Gophers held the Tar Heels to 31 points, which was tied for their lowest total of the season, but couldn’t slow Drake Maye. Offensively, the Gophers leaned on Taylor as predicted, but it didn’t prevent mistakes by Kaliakmanis. The Gophers lost to North Carolina 31-13, which wasn’t too far off from our 27-17 prediction.

Next Up

  • Opponent: Northwestern
  • Date: Saturday, September 23
  • Game: 6:30 PM CST
  • Location: Evanston, Illinois

North Carolina Beats Gophers

Photo courtesy: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports


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