Wolverines Simply a Tough Matchup

The Minnesota Gophers season has been a nightmare when measured by wins and losses, and they are preparing to face a surging team in the Michigan Wolverines.

Minnesota has lost six consecutive games, is coming off perhaps the worst loss in program history, will not be going to a bowl game for the first time since 2001 and now must travel to Ann Arbor to play Michigan.

Yikes.

In a season that has drifted way, way off course, a game against the surging Wolverines has the potential to get out of hand. No doubt Michigan remembers the Gophers' celebration at midfield after a 23-20 upset back in 2005.

"To me, this is a really fun week," Gophers coach Tim Brewster said. "The motivational ploys don't need to be there. Our kids understand that we have to prepare our butts off and play extremely well if we want to beat Michigan in their backyard."

The Gophers don't match up well in any aspect. They are ranked last in Division I-A in total defense, allowing 533 yards per game. They gave up 585 total yards, including 394 rushing to North Dakota State last week. That does not bode well, especially if Michigan's Mike Hart returns from a high ankle sprain.

The Gophers' offense had one of its worst outings of the season against NDSU, managing only 307 total yards. They had only 125 rushing yards and lost starting tailback Jay Thomas to a season-ending knee injury in the process.

Minnesota, which is playing seven true freshmen, also hasn't played a road game in a difficult environment. The team's three road dates were against Florida Atlantic, Indiana and Northwestern. The average attendance for those games was 22,027. It will be interesting to see how the young Gophers handle their first trip to the Big House.

NOTES

  • SS Dominique Barber collected 11 tackles and one fumble recovery, but he also had a critical roughing-the-punter penalty in the closing minutes of the game that allowed North Dakota State to run out the clock.

  • LB Deon Hightower has made a smooth transition from the outside to middle linebacker. In his second career start, he had a team-high 13 tackles, including 10 solos and two for loss.


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