October 11, 2007

Let's look ahead to Northwestern (and ignor that Indiana debacle)

Sooooo, Northwestern.

Let us start with the perspective of a NW fan. Lake the Posts gives a solid rundown of the MN/NW series in recent years. I found it particularly interesting how really fans of both schools look at their schedule and say "that's a win." I look upon every schedule with optimism and hope as I assume NW, Indiana and Illinois are wins. How dare they assume Minnesota is a team they "should" beat. Well, reality is harsh this year my friends.

While I view this as one of the few remaining "winable" games, in no way do I think this game is a win. Northwestern is more beatable than Michigan and Wisconsin, but the golden gophers have not given us any reason to think that they WILL win a Big Ten game this year.

This is the Alice in Wonderland game. Both teams can look across the line of scrimmage and see themselves in different uniforms.

Spread offense vs. Spread offense
inexperienced coach vs. inexperienced coach
defense that can't tackle vs. defense that can't tackle
turnover prone vs. turnover prone

This game is not enticing to watch unless you are a gopher or wildcat fan. Neither team is going anywhere this season and both are fighting for respectability. The 2 worst defenses in the conference face off in what will surely be an epic display of mediocrity. Both teams are bottom 2 in the following defensive statistical rankings...
  • yard allowed
  • points allowed
  • rushing yards allowed
  • sacks by your defense
  • turnover margin
  • opponents first downs
  • def pass efficiency
  • opponent's 3rd down conversions (NW is actually 9th but close enough)
That makes this look like it will be an offense shoot out but neither offense is exactly efficient. Both are bottom half of conference in scoring, NW is near the bottom in rushing offense and both have double digit turnovers.

Can anything make this game look sexy? No.

Here is your Gopher perspective...

At this point ANY conference win will be a signature win for coach Brewster. 0-8 in conference is significantly worse than 1-7. And really winning a road game with NDSU coming up and your rivalry games looming, this could be a momentum game. I'm not calling a win here but if we can eek out a win this could salvage this season to a notch above disastrous. These guys (especially the defense) could use some confidence.

Keys to the Game...
  • Turnovers - have to win the turnover battle
  • Tackling - have to tackle better than NW
  • Tenacity - this team needs to play with some FIRE, some life from the defense and Weber leading the offense with some guts and we could win this game.

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