Gophers Look to Defend Homecoming

The Gophers have ruined Homecoming games for consecutive opponents. This week, Minnesota looks to defend its own Homecoming in front of a big Metrodome crowd.

The Gophers have crashed consecutive Homecoming games at Illinois and Purdue. Now they return home for their own Homecoming against Northwestern as coach Tim Brewster is encouraging fans to sell out the Metrodome.

At 7-1, the Gophers have won three straight in the Big Ten following the conference-opening loss to Ohio State. At 3-1 in the Big Ten, the Gophers are reversing their fortunes from last year, when they were assaulted by every Big Ten team on their schedule.

That prompted a good question to Brewster this week, on whether teams have been as gracious in defeat this year as they were in victory last year.

"No," Brewster said after a brief pause. He refused to expand on that no. "I know where you're going," he said.

Still, the Gophers' transformation has been nothing short of remarkable. They enter the Northwestern game ranked 20th in the country, officially completing the evolution from hunter to hunted.

"We've been the hunter," Brewster said. "We've been hunting the bear. And we've somewhat become the bear. And our football teams needs to understand that. It's a different kind of mindset. We're kind of the hunted at this point. I like that. It means progress."


  • WR Ralph Spry will serve the second of his two-game suspension this week against Northwestern. Spry also missed the game against Purdue for a violation of team rules.

  • DL Derrick Onwuachi missed the Purdue game with a shoulder injury, but is expected to play this week against Northwestern at close to 100 percent health.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Adam Weber — He's already tied for fourth for the most touchdown passes in school history, and he still has more than two seasons of eligibility remaining. Enough said.

    WR Eric Decker — His 833 receiving yards lead the Big Ten and rank seventh nationally. He has also caught five touchdown passes.

    DE Willie VanDeSteeg — His 6.5 sacks rank among the league leaders, and he'll be going against Northwestern QB C.J. Bacher, who left last week's game with a leg injury. If Bacher is able to play, he'll have a hard time getting away from the speedy VanDeSteeg.

    SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Adam Weber played through a bloody nose against Purdue and kept Minnesota at the top of the Big Ten standings. The Gophers reside in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories in the Big Ten, and really struggle running the ball, averaging 126 yards per game. But they cash in on all the turnovers generated by the defense, and to date have been able to do just enough to win. The offense ranks fourth in the league in scoring, averaging 28 points per game.

    SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Gophers rank eighth in the league in yards allowed (362), but are allowing just 17 points per game thanks to a nation's-best 24 forced turnovers. Minnesota has recovered 12 fumbles and intercepted 12 passes, proving to be equally adept at forcing turnovers with both the front seven and the secondary. The best way to beat Minnesota is to hold onto the ball, something Northwestern has struggled to do with 19 turnovers.

    THIS WEEK'S GAME: Northwestern at Minnesota, Nov. 1 — Before the Wildcats' surprising loss to Indiana last week, this was going to be the unexpected game between a pair of surprising heavyweights. As it is, it's still a game between two pretty good teams who were nowhere near the radar at the start of the year. The Gophers have the advantage, though, since coach Tim Brewster is calling for a sellout for the Homecoming game. More importantly, Northwestern will be without Tyrell Sutton, who has been lost for the year with a wrist injury.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've got so much admiration for him, his toughness, his courage and his leadership ability." — coach Tim Brewster, on QB Adam Weber

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