Time To Move On

The Gophers may have learned their lesson last year about dwelling on a loss too long. After losing to Michigan again this year, it's time to exploit the weaknesses presented by Michigan State.

It's too late to do anything about Michigan. But if the Gophers bounce back emotionally, they can really get on a roll.

Yes, the 27-24 loss spoiled Minnesota's chances at joining the nation's elite, but it did not knock them out of the Big Ten race. Considering that the next three games are against Michigan State, Illinois and Indiana, what's to stop Minnesota from getting to 8-1?

Of course, the Gophers lost to Michigan State last year a week after a heartbreaking loss to Michigan ... but this Spartans team isn't as good this season and, hopefully, the Gophers have learned their lesson.

"Last year was last year," nose tackle Anthony Montgomery told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

"We put that out of our mind. We will forget about this game and get ready for Michigan State. We know we can't come out flat or the same thing will happen as last year."

RB Laurence Maroney is the Big Ten's leading rusher with 815 yards. He said the team has matured and has learned how to put a loss behind them. "It's definitely different," Maroney said. "We thought about that loss (last season) while we were practicing for Michigan State. We have to get over it."

The Gophers should be helped by the matchups. Minnesota boasts the best running attack in the Big Ten with 301.0 yards per game, while Michigan State ranks ninth in defending the run by allowing 174.3 yards per game. The Spartans' particular weakness has been poor tackling. That manifested itself last week against Illinois when backup RB Pierre Thomas pierced them for 188 yards.


SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Minnesota offensive line is big, strong and nasty. While they met some resistance at Michigan, the Gophers still managed to run for 189 yards. If the Gophers can put the loss to the Wolverines behind them, look for another huge rushing day from Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Gophers are a decent defensive team, but they lack size and power. They showed significant improvement against Northwestern and Penn State, but they gave up 518 yards to Michigan. How will defensive coordinator Greg Hudson get this team back on track for Michigan State? The Spartans lack big names in the backfield, but they rank second in the Big Ten in rushing with 194.3 rushing yards per game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We still have a chance. One loss doesn't mean you're not going to go to the Rose Bowl. We just have to take care of our business." — Minnesota QB Bryan Cupito to the Minneapolis Star Tribune on how the Gophers can rescue their season even though they just lost to Michigan for the 35th time in 37 years.


THIS WEEK'S GAME: Minnesota at Michigan State, Oct. 16 — Coach Glen Mason is on the spot. He has to do something to rid his team of its hangover following another painful loss to Michigan. Last year, the Gophers followed a heartbreaking loss to the Wolverines with a 44-38 loss to Michigan State. Fate — and the schedule-makers — have given the Gophers an opportunity to turn last year's loss to the Spartans around.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Bryan Cupito — No player can take all the blame for a loss, but the Gophers had a great chance to beat Michigan and probably would have if Cupito had been able to get the ball to his open receivers. Cupito completed 8-of-22 passes for 156 yards last week and needs to calm down a bit so he can regain his consistency.

LB Terrance Campbell — The best player on the Gopher defense. Campbell is not big at 6-2 and 200 pounds, but he is lightning fast. Campbell has 45 tackles, including three tackles for loss and one interception through the first six games of the season.

ROSTER REPORT: The Gophers are not planning any lineup changes heading into the Michigan State game and are relatively healthy.

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