I have not done any game previews this season for a few reasons. The non-conference games were not that interesting and so little was known about them (or us). The first couple conference games seemed like such bad matchups that it didn't seem worth my time. And really the visiting recruits were much more interesting than the games.
I am in the camp that wins and losses this season are pretty meaningless. Their only significance is to aid recruiting. Going 1-11 will make it tougher to turn verbals into signings. This game does have some meaning and a win will prove very valuable. And most importantly this game is "winable". As previously stated I don't really care about final record but I need to see improvement and that we have learned from early mistakes. Winning this conference road game would show everyone that this team is heading in the right direction. Everybody knows that we are not there yet but this will help us to believe that Brewster is not Jim Wacker reincarnate.
So here goes...
Indiana sits at 4-1 and has been a pleasently surprising team in 2007. The Big Ten's best is considered down but Indiana (and Illinois, Pur, Mich St) is showing that the bottom has improved. I think that is mostly a farce.
Indiana is still Indiana and I am guaranteeing a golden gopher victory this week.
Here is why...
Minnesota beats Minnesota - Minnesota is sitting at 1-4 and it is very difficult to have confidence in a team that lost to Florida Atlantic and loves to spot teams a 21 point half time lead. But I contend that the only 2 teams have truly beating Minnesota. Ohio State and Minnesota (you could argue Purdue, but I'll show you a few unforced errors that took us out of it).
But a gopher can't change his stripes you say? Well, I agree with that argument but if you look at the trend this team has done a much better job of taking care of the ball lately.
- 7 turnovers @ FAU
- 4 turnovers vs. Purdue
- 2 turnovers vs. Ohio State
If this team is improving, it will show up with reduced mental mistakes before you'll see it on the scoreboard and in the stat sheet. I see only 2 turnovers and neither will be the kind that kills you (like on the goalline, after a blocked FG or a pick-6). In fact we might even win the turnover battle for once.
Rushing Dominance - the Hoosiers are the most one-dimensional team we'll see all year. Their overall rushing numbers are decent but their leading rusher is their QB. Marcus Thigpen is their best RB and he is averaging just 3.6 yds per carry. Defensively Indiana has OK rush defense stats as well but I would argue they are also a mirage. This Hoosier defense let Rashard Mendenhal rush for 214 yards in their home loss to Illinois.
Obviously the gopher defense has been awful this year, I'm not delusional. I fully expect the Hoosiers to rack up a lot of yards, and it will all be in the air. What will greatly help the gopher defense this week will be our rushing dominance. I am seeing visions of Bennett, Pinnix and Weber running all over this defense. Eating up clock and keeping our defense rested.
Brewster Factor - this will be the game that Brewster's kids are fired up by a pre-game speech AND they'll carry it over onto the field. Brewster is contagious and as we all know "passionate"! This week it pays off. We start a little bit of momentum here.
- Minnesota Wins by 10+
- Indiana has under 400 yards of offense
- Minnesota wins the turnover battle
- Minnesota rushes for 250+
I know that Kellen Lewis and James Hardy are very good. This is a good passing attack vs. a terrible pass defense.
I know that this is on the road and IU has serious momentum after their upset win at Iowa.
But I also know that Minnesota has won 3 of the last 4 meetings. The wins have been an average of 53-18.
I also know that Minnesota won last year by 37 points AND they gave up 500 yards of offense.
Keys to the Game...
- Turnovers - not just the quantity, but the quality. Turnovers that lead directly to points or turnovers that obviously take away points are unacceptable. 3rd and long interceptions aren't the end of the world, they are just a really short punt. But you CAN'T fumble on the goaline, fumble when nobody is within 10 yards of you or throw it to a DE who runs to the house.
- Run, Run, Run - if Minnesota owns the line of scrimmage that will reduce turnovers and keep the IU offense off the field. I see a HUGE day for Bennett and Pinnix.
- Pass Protection - IU has been getting the the QB at a decent clip, the MN Oline has been very good thus far and they have to keep Weber from running and throwing (see Key #1).
- Get to Lewis - keep him in the pocket and at least make him uncomfortable.