Much like a season ago, the Gophers simply were not ready to play the week after getting their hearts broken by the Wolverines. They went to East Lansing and got humiliated 51-17 by an improving Spartan team, but one that did not appear to be as good as the Gophers coming into this game.
Minnesota was beaten thoroughly in all phases. The defense was completely shredded for 636 yards and the offense could not hold up its end. After the game, head coach Glen Mason was left searching for answers.
"I feel this is the worst defeat that we've endured in the seven-plus years since I've been here," Mason said. "The big question is why? I'm not sure I have that answer. I'm not sure anybody has it right now. Surely we didn't see it coming."
The game began on an ominous note. Michigan State took the opening kickoff back 50 yards and the floodgates opened. The Spartans built a 21-3 lead late in the first quarter and the Gophers were never able to mount a challenge.
The biggest problem the defense seemed to have was an inability to tackle. On Michigan State RB Jason Teague's 43-yard TD run late in the first quarter, at least five Gophers had a chance to bring him down.
"At this level of football you better tackle well," Mason said.
It didn't happen against the Spartans and the Gophers must find an answer quickly or their dream season will soon become a nightmare.
GAME BALL GOES TO: WR Jakari Wallace -- There's not much to choose here, but Wallace was a big-time factor for the Gophers. He caught five passes for 95 yards and could prove to be a decent weapon the rest of the season.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Head coach Glen Mason -- The Gophers have lost their last 12 games the week after losing to Michigan. A good head coach has to get his team prepared and knock out the "hangover" factor. Mason will try again next season to break the Michigan curse.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "When the whole team plays poorly, that's my fault. I'll take responsibility for that. It's my job to get them ready to play. It's hard for me to figure because, at least in my evaluation, we've practiced well, we've prepared well. But really the last two weeks we've been atypical of a Gophers football team. If it seems like I'm preoccupied, that's what I'm preoccupied with right now." -- Minnesota head coach Glen Mason.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: Despite being pushed around all over the field, the defense managed to come up with two interceptions and one fumble recovery against Michigan State. Justin Fraley's first-quarter interception gave the Gophers an interception in six consecutive games, the longest streak since 1993.
STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: The defense has a ton of work to do. The 51 points scored by the Spartans was the third-highest total against the Gophers during Glen Mason's tenure. It was the largest margin of defeat (34) for Minnesota in the all-time series with the Spartans.
ROSTER REPORT: Safety John Pawielski (head) and offensive guard Brandon Harston (foot) did not dress after suffering injuries against Michigan. Quentin White replaced Pawielski, and Mike Nicholson filled in for Harston. RB Laurence Maroney left briefly in the first half with what appeared to be a hand injury but he returned shortly thereafter.
Beaten In All Phases
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