Who's At QB?

The Gophers are expected to go into Saturday's Big Ten opener with Bryan Cupito as their starting quarterback. If the way the Gophers used backup Adam Ernst is any indication, the return of Cupito from a head injury is a huge plus.

Because Minnesota coach Glen Mason does not discuss injury specifics, we don't know whether or not starting quarterback Bryan Cupito had a concussion. Mason indicated that Cupito was held out for the remainder of the Colorado State game as a precautionary measure and should be available on Saturday for the Big Ten opener against Northwestern.

It seems that Coach Mason is not overly confident in Cupito's backup, Adam Ernst, since Ernst was not asked to make even one pass although he faced third-and-long on a number of occasions. The Gophers were trying to run the clock out and were content to play conservatively, not risk turnovers and leave it to the defense rather than try to maintain an extended drive on offense without Cupito.

Still that either shows a lot of confidence in the defense or not much in Ernst, or a little of both.

Gophers moving on up
The Gophers have leapfrogged rival Wisconsin to 19th, up from 22nd, in both the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and the AP poll. Both polls have Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin ranked 18,19 and 20 respectively.

Of the three, Minnesota has looked the best. Michigan had an ugly loss to Notre Dame and has struggled, and Wisconsin has been stingy on defense but have struggled on offense.

What do we know so far?
Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney are an amazing one-two punch, but we knew that before the season started. We know Bryan Cupito is at least good enough ... so far. It looks like Colorado State was a litmus test.

The win against Toledo looked like a statement game, blowing out a near top-25 team with a strong passing attack and expecting to contend for a conference title. Then weeks two, Minnesota struggled to put away the feisty Div I-AA Illinois State Redbirds. Toledo the got creamed by unranked Kansas, and Gopher fans were back to square one. Was Toledo over-hyped? Could the Redbirds be that good?

The question that matters to Maroon and Gold fans is "are the Gophers for real?" Did they just have a letdown after a big win against Toledo or did they have some real weaknesses to address?

According to head coach Glen Mason, there was no letdown

"They outplayed us," he said. "That's no letdown".

How does a legitimate top 25 team get outplayed by a D-1AA team?

After Saturday's win over Colorado State, a good team coming off a shellacking by the then top-ranked team in the nation, was a good win to return respect to the Gophers.

Mason has built a solid program that has consistently gotten better. The Illinois State game was a loud wakeup call, and the Gophers took their superior talent on the road for a big win. That win kept them on track for a Jan 1 bowl game.

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