Rock-bottom ending for Gophers

The Gophers started the season with a flurry and finished it with a deflating thud. Players called the first home shutout since 1989 "embarrassing."

If winning seven of eight to start the season was the high point, this was certainly rock bottom.

Iowa's fans taking over the Metrodome, the Gophers getting pummeled in their finale, 55-0, and all the work from the season's first two months washed away in a flurry of mistakes.

The Gophers are still assured of a bowl game, but at a time when bowl committees assess momentum and winning streaks in selecting teams, Minnesota instead fell flat.

It ends the regular season on a four-game losing streak, and the blowout loss to Iowa in the finale was the fifth-worst in school history. Minnesota hadn't been shutout at home since 1989.

"It is the most embarrassing game I've ever been a part of, in any sport," Gophers quarterback Adam Weber said bluntly.

At its highest, Minnesota was 7-1, ranked 20th in the nation and dreaming about the Rose Bowl. Now at 7-5, the Gophers will likely plummet to the Motor City Bowl, the lowest of the Big Ten's tie-ins. Teams that don't travel well — Minnesota couldn't even fill the Metrodome for the finale — and teams on long losing streaks don't make very attractive selections. That should make the Gophers the last team to come off the board.

"Words can't express the disappointment I feel as a football coach, the disappointment I have for Minnesotans and our university, just disappointed in my ability to put a team on the field that could compete," Gophers coach Tim Brewster said. "We just didn't get that done."

NOTES

  • WR Eric Decker returned from the ankle injury that forced him to miss a game, but he wasn't as effective against Iowa. Decker had two catches for 33 yards.

  • CB Daryl Robinson, a 5-foot-10 junior college transfer, has committed to the Gophers. He is the 15th member of Minnesota's 2009 recruiting class.

    SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Gophers failed to produce more than 17 points in four of their final five games. Not surprisingly, they ended the regular season on a four-game losing skid. The running game has been the biggest offender. The Gophers finished last in the league and 105th in the nation in rushing, averaging 105.8 yards per game. That, in turn, limits QB Adam Weber's effectiveness. Until the running game is patched, the Gophers will never be able to contend in the run-oriented Big Ten.

    SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: It's alarming that the Gophers surrendered 90 points in their final two games. Minnesota was never really strong defensively, but it generated enough turnovers (30) to offset the massive yards allowed. The Hawkeyes didn't commit a turnover, and hammered the Gophers for 55 points. There is a correlation.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Adam Weber — His two worst games came in the last three for Minnesota. Weber had clunkers against Michigan and Iowa, but, overall, is the best player on offense.

    WR Eric Decker — An ankle injury rendered him ineffective over the final three games, otherwise Decker could've ended the season with staggering figures. As it was, Decker caught 76 passes for 925 yards and six touchdowns.

    DE Willie VanDeSteeg — His 9.5 sacks more than double anyone else on the team. He accounted for nearly one-third of Minnesota's 30 team sacks.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Words can't express the disappointment I feel as a football coach, the disappointment I have for Minnesotans and our university, just disappointed in my ability to put a team on the field that could compete. We just didn't get that done." — coach Tim Brewster, on the 55-0 loss to Iowa



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