Indiana Hoosiers (3-4,1-2) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-2,2-2)
Series History: Minnesota leads the overall series 37-25-3, but is only 6-16-2 in Bloomington.
Last Meeting: The Gophers won 16-7 in an ugly game that is best never mentioned again.
Last IU win: 2007. That glorious year of mediocrity, the Hoosiers bested Minnesota 40-20 at the Rock.
Kellen Lewis passed for 235 yards and rushed for another 85. Bryan Payton rushed for 90 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Ray Fisher had 9 catches for 105 yards.
What did we learn last week: How to ignore Kevin Wilson when he says the responsibility is on an offense that scored 47 points to simply score more. This offered the latest in a long line of examples how much happier my life is for not ever listening to anything a coach says to the media. Every single word uttered has a motive beyond truthfully answering a question . Whether it’s to attempt to take pressure off a group that’s underperforming, keep the expectations high for a group that’s performing well, or to make a point about something completely unrelated. This inevitably leads to a coach completely flipping around what he may have said earlier, or defying all logic like Wilson did in the statement above. Trying to glean information off any particular coaches statement will leave you feeling like Lewis Black trying to understand how a horse helped a woman stay in college.
So what about this week: Well the Golden Gophers come to the Rock for the first time in six seasons and until a couple of weeks ago, the program was teetering on the cliff. A head coach whose health problems come into sharp focus every Saturday, an offense that couldn’t decide what it did best, or well. A defense that had just given up 42 points to Michigan. I know it’s hard to imagine how awful a defense must be to give up 42 points to Michigan. But after coach Jerry Kill made the smart decision to step back and allow Tracy Claeys to serve as acting head coach, the Gophers have rallied around their new coach to the tune of wins over Northwestern and Nebraska.
David Cobb leads a power rushing attack that has scored 19 touchdowns on the ground this season. Freshman QB Mitch Leidner took the starting spot from Sophomore Phillip Nelson, but neither has had a great deal of success through the air. Leidner has completed 61% of his passes with a touchdown and an interception. However Leidner has been a more accomplished rusher thus far averaging about 4.5 yards per carry and 6 touchdowns rushing. Rodrick Williams completes the three headed monster of runners that will test IU’s defense.
Defensively, Sophomore DL Thieren Cockran leads all Gophers with 5.5 sacks.
And for the Home team: I haven’t heard as much from the IU camp regarding a quarterback controversy, but it’s clear at this point both Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld will play. Despite my many protests to the contrary, Tre Roberson has played, and played well enough to deserve snaps. Roberson was 16-23 for 288 yards with 50 yards rushing tacked on is the type of efficient offense that IU needs to keep up with whatever its defense is giving up.
And about the defense: While the Hoosiers have been living up to the Score Lots of Points half of the game plan. Instead of Sucking Less on Defense, they’ve instead unfortunately sucked more the last two games. The last time the Hoosiers had a bye week they followed it up with at least a reasonably competent performance against Penn State. We’ll see if all that’s needed to suck less is to have an extra week to prepare.
Scouting Future Opponents:
IU’s next three opponents are all on the road and all playing at noon on Saturday.
Illinois visits Happy Valley looking to break a 3 game losing streak against Penn State.
Wisconsin heads to Iowa after rolling over its last two opponents.
THE Ohio State University takes on Purdue in West Lafayette.
Prediction Time: Tre Roberson and/or Nate Sudfeld put IU on the scoreboard early and often. An early lead forces Minnesota to the air where IU is able to manage near competent play as IU wins 42-30.