50- Minnesota's national ranking in rushing offense among 119 I-A schools, producing 148.3 yards/game. That's a huge drop off from what Glen Mason's teams have done in recent years. While programs like Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin have been thought of for their proficiency in running the ball, no one had done it better in recent years than Minnesota. The Gophers finished in the top five nationally in rushing offense in each of the past three years, coming in third in 2003 (289.2/game), fifth in 2004 (256.8/game) and third in 2005 (273.1/game). This will mark the first time Minnesota finishes out of the top 20 nationally in rushing offense since 2000, when it ranked 27th with 187.6/game. Mason no longer has Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber III - both of whom are starring in the NFL - and Gary Russell (an 1,100-yard rusher in 2005) is no longer in school due to academics. The Gophers have turned to Amir Pinnix (88.1 yards/game), but they are no longer nearly as potent on the ground as they've been in recent years.
80 – combined points Minnesota lost to Wisconsin (48-12) and Ohio State (44-0). IU Coach Terry Hoeppner's Hoosiers can sympathize, since his team lost to those same two schools by a combined 76 points (52-17 vs. Wisconsin, 44-3 at Ohio State). While Indiana has managed to beat each of its other three conference foes, though, Minnesota is winless in its five Big Ten games. Barring a 3-0 finish to close the regular season Minnesota will fail to earn a bowl invitation for the first time in five years. Overall, Minnesota has been to a bowl game in six out of the last seven years.
107 – Minnesota's national rank in total defense out of 119 I-A teams. The Gophers give up 400.5 yards/game, and they've been generous against the run and the pass. Minnesota ranks 103rd nationally in rushing defense (178.1 yards/game) and it is 86th against the pass (222.4 yards/game). One area in particular Minnesota has struggled in is getting off the field on 3rd downs. Opposing teams are converting 46 percent of their third down attempts, compared to Minnesota's success rate of 33 percent. As a result, Minnesota's opponents have controlled the ball for more than 32 minutes on average in their games.
5 – Big Ten teams that have already become bowl eligible – Ohio State (9-0), Michigan (9-0), Wisconsin (8-1), Iowa (6-3) and Penn State (6-3). Indiana can join that group with a win in Minneapolis on Saturday. The other three teams in the conference that have a chance to become bowl eligible are Purdue (5-4), Minnesota (3-6) and Michigan State (4-5). Purdue and Michigan State – which play Saturday in East Lansing - still need two more wins to become eligible, while Minnesota must win its final three regular season games to qualify. Purdue plays a 13-game schedule this season (it closes its regular season with a Nov. 25 game at Hawaii) and thus must win seven games instead of six.
18 – career touchdown receptions for James Hardy, which ranks third in school history. Hardy caught 10 as a redshirt freshman and has now added eight as a sophomore. Jade Butcher holds the school record with 30 from 1967-69, followed by Ernie Jones' 20 (1984-87). Hardy is currently tied with Thomas Lewis in third. Hardy, though, has reached his total much faster than anyone else on the list. The Hoosiers' 6'7" wideout has played only 17 career games.
What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players To Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Matchups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
Five Days and Counting...
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