Brewster Knows Importance of Rivalry Games

Gophers coach Tim Brewster has experienced rivalries as intense as the Minnesota-Wisconsin matchup and knows that border rivalries play an important part in the success of a program.

Gophers coach Tim Brewster got to experience one of college football's most intense rivalries as an assistant coach at Texas. Brewster said decorum goes out the window whenever Texas and Oklahoma tangle in the Red River Shootout.

"It's about blood," he said. "The Texas-OU game is the first game I ever had where you get flipped off by 85-year-old women. That's how deep that thing is."

Seriously? Grandmas giving the one-finger salute?

"Sure," Brewster said. "More than one."

The vitriol surrounding the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry might not rise to that level — or is it sink to that level? — but Brewster will get his first taste of the longest-standing rivalry in Division I Nov. 17, when the border rivals meet for the 117th time. Wisconsin has won the past three meetings and 10 of 12 since 1995 and will be favored again to remain in possession of Paul Bunyan's Axe.

Like any good rivalry, there is a level of testiness to this one. Both sides seem to enjoy needling the other.

"Rivalry games are what football is all about to me," Brewster said. This one involves more than pride and the axe. Recruiting is a big part of it, too. Wisconsin has plucked talent from Minnesota over the years, and the turf war remains heated. Brewster said his staff will recruit Wisconsin, but he doesn't consider it a "primary" recruiting territory. Still, he acknowledged the recruiting implications tied to this rivalry.

"It's an important game to the people in the state of Minnesota," he said. "We want to establish ourselves in the state. What we're trying to do is to make certain that the kids in Minnesota know that there's no reason to leave the state of Minnesota."

The Gophers, who already have tied the school record with 10 losses, are hoping to avoid finishing without a victory or tie in the Big Ten for the first time since 1983. Wisconsin comes in sky high after upsetting Michigan 37-21 Nov. 10.

The last meeting at the Metrodome in 2005 had a wild finish. The Gophers led by 10 points late in the game, but Wisconsin staged a remarkable comeback. The Badgers blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone in the final seconds after Gophers punter Justin Kucek initially dropped the snap.

The Gophers' offense continues to struggle and will not have a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time since 1998. Senior Amir Pinnix leads the team with 562 rushing yards.

Minnesota's streak of eight seasons with 2,000 yards rushing and passing also is in jeopardy. The Gophers need 208 rushing yards to extend the streak.

NOTES

  • WR Ernie Wheelwright was held in check by Iowa last week. He finished with six catches for only 27 yards and was unable to create any separation down the field.

  • SS Dom Barber collected six tackles, including a touchdown-saving stop at the goal line, and one pass defended. Barber needs nine tackles to reach 100 for the season.

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