Harold Shelton III, BTN Studio Researcher, August 31, 2016

Are you ready for the start of Big Ten football?

Minnesota will kick off the 2016 Big Ten football season at 9 p.m. ET Thursday night against Oregon State. Watch the game live on BTN/BTN2Go.

Earlier this week, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart previewed the Gophers' matchup against Oregon State.

To get fans ready for the season opener, our BTN Stats Guy, Harold Shelton, has 10 fun facts to know.


1. This is the first meeting between these teams since 1981 and just the fourth meeting in the series overall. The Gophers have won two of the previous three meetings with all of them coming in Minneapolis. The Gophers are favored by 13 points, which is interesting because they were originally only favored by 8.5 points.

2. This is the second straight season that the Gophers are opening with a power conference opponent. Last season, they lost 23-17 at home against No. 2-ranked TCU. It?s the first time they?ve opened consecutive seasons against a power conference opponent since 1993-94 when they opened with Penn State. The last time it happened in consecutive years against non-Big Ten power conference opponents came in 1988-89 when they played Washington State and Iowa State.

3. This is Minnesota?s first game against a Pac-12 team since losing 19-17 at USC in 2011. Overall, the Gophers have lost four straight games against Pac-12 teams with its last win coming in the 2003 Sun Bowl against Oregon. They have also lost three straight home games against Pac-12 teams, losing to USC in 2010, Cal in 2009, and Washington State in 1988. Their last home win against a Pac-12 team came in 1987 against Cal, which also happens to be their last regular season victory against a team from that conference.

4. This is Oregon State?s second straight season playing against a Big Ten team on the road. Last season, the Beavers lost 35-7 at Michigan. Leaving Corvallis to play a Big Ten team is nothing new to the Beavers. In their history, they have played 37 games against Big Ten teams and 33 of them have been away from home (including neutral site games). They are looking to snap a six-game road losing streak to Big Ten teams, last winning in 1978?against Minnesota.

5. Playing against Minnesota is nothing new for Oregon State Head Coach Gary Andersen. He beat the Gophers twice (both by double digits) as Wisconsin Head Coach in 2013 and 2014. However, it appears that he won?t have the same type of talent in Corvallis that he had in Madison. His Beavers went 2-10 last season, including an 0-9 mark in the Pac-12.

6. Minnesota is coming off of a regular season where it had a more successful passing attack than in previous years. After being ranked 13th or worse in passing offense in 2013-14, the Gophers ranked eighth in yards through the air among Big Ten teams last season.

7. Injuries have already hit the Gophers early. Running back Shannon Brooks will miss Thursday?s game due to a broken bone in his foot and he?ll be out until likely the Colorado State game on September 24th (2 games). Brooks' big play ability will be missed. As a true freshman a year ago, he led Minnesota in rushing yards (709) and rushing touchdowns (7). On a per carry basis, Brooks averaged 5.96 yards per carry, which was fifth among qualified Big Ten rushers.

8. The Gophers can be a sleeper in the West and they have eight all-conference players returning from last season, which is the second-most in the Big Ten

9. For the third straight season, Oregon State will have a different offensive and defensive coordinator. They are the only power conference team that has had a different offensive and defensive coordinator in each of the last three seasons.

10. Oregon State will have just 15 seniors, which is the second-fewest in the Pac-12. They are also expected to have at least 19 players in their two-deep that haven?t played a snap with the Beavers. One of those players does have FBS experience, just not with Oregon State. The likely starting quarterback is Utah State transfer Darell Garretson, who hasn?t played a lot of football lately. He sat out last year as a transfer and missed the first half of the 2014 season with a wrist injury. He threw for 2,586 pass yards with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in two seasons with the Aggies.