...by the government of the United Nations (or NCAA as appropriate). Man, free to kill gophers at will. To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit - ever. They're like the Viet Cong - Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower. And that's all she wrote."
-Carl Spackler, Caddyshack (1980).
Those words ring as true today as they did 27 years ago, and in case you couldn't tell, it is that time of year again. Time to for a Minnesota head coach to lead his herd of furry little gophers to the slaughter, like so many poor little lemmings.
In spite of a 44-0 pasting in Columbus and a 6-6 regular season record, the Gophers did manage to make it to a bowl last year; I guess everyone does get a trophy in the NCAA these days. During the Insight Bowl, the Gophers jumped out to a 38-7 lead with 7:47 remaining in the third quarter only to give up 31 unanswered points to Texas Tech, forcing overtime. Predictably, and in spite of all their obvious momentum, the Gophers lost the game in overtime and coach Glenn Mason lost his job.
In his ten years at Minnesota, Glenn Mason did manage to pull the Gophers from the bottom of the Big Ten all the way up to solid mediocrity, leading the Gophers to bowl games in seven of his last eight seasons there. It is a little surprising that they fired him, but I guess no one likes to be on the losing side of the largest bowl comeback in history. Mason was forced to hurl himself from an arctic cliff, landing squarely in a chair at the new (and beloved by fans everywhere) Big Ten network.
This year's lemmings, errr gophers, will be led to the slaughter, errr game, by Tim Brewster formerly the head coach of... nowhere. Talk about a raw deal, Brewster's first head coaching gig is at Minnesota where he signed an incentive laden deal with bonuses for BCS games (yeah right), Big Ten Titles (yeah right), and National Championships. I just have to wonder why they stopped there. Why didn't they offer him a bonus for the capture of Usama Bin Laden or conquering the free world?
"This is a hybrid. This is a cross, ah, of Bluegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Featherbed Bent, and Northern California Sensemilia. The amazing stuff about this is, that you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon, take it home and just get stoned to the bejeezus-belt that night on this stuff."
Shortly after signing the contract, Brewster was quoted as saying that his immediate goals were to, "win the Big Ten Championship," and "take Gopher nation to Pasedena." While one has to applaud his generosity for taking all seven Minnesota football fans to southern California on his own dime, you have to question his judgment for talking to the media after obviously partaking in some of Carl Spackler's hybrid. Seriously, a Big Ten Title in Canada... I mean Minnesota? I guess stranger things have happened, they did just win one in 1967.
Without further ado here are the 2007 Lemmings, quick get them to the cliff before the leave more "pellets" on the turf.
From the Big Ten Preview:
10. Minnesota: Yuck. This team was miserable last year and will be miserable again this year. Saying their defense is porous is an insult to colanders and sponges around the world. The Gophers fired Glen Mason after blowing their bowl game. It is pretty obvious that he did not do a great job at Minnesota, but I am not sure that firing him was the right move because at least the team got to a bowl game. It still shocks me to this day that Mason was actually in the running for the Ohio State job in 2002. His replacement, Tim Brewster, has his work cut out for him taking over a team that is devoid of any defensive talent.
I stand by this assessment 100%. This year's Lemmings are 1-1 against the MAC, 0-1 against the Sun Belt Conference, and 0-1 against the Big Ten. They are an absolute embarrassment to the Big Ten. They are HORRIBLE, giving up a staggering 36 points per game against a feeble non-conference schedule. They may actually be worse than the Northwestern team that Ohio State shellacked 58-7.
How bad is the Minnesota defense? Well against traditional college football powerhouses; Bowling Green, FAU, Miami (OH), and Purdue, they have given up over 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in each game. Hell, they gave up nearly 600 yards of offense to Florida Atlantic. On average Minnesota is giving up a shocking 408 yards per game in the air and an additional 137 yards per game on the ground and the only decent team they have played is Purdue.
On the offensive side of the ball, Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber is completing 58.6% of his passes and ranks seventh in the Big Ten in passing efficiency and second in passing yards per game, averaging nearly 260 yards per game. The second statistic is impressive, but Minnesota has played some of the worst pass defenses in the country so the number rings a bit hollow.
Minnesota tailback Amir Pinnix is a solid back, currently sitting fourth in the Big Ten in rushing yards with 439 yards in 4 games thus far, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Pinnix was a 1,200 yard back last year, but did very little against the 2006 Buckeyes running for 46 yards on 14 carries. Pinnix is a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield and can be dangerous if he gets into the open field.
The Match Ups:
Ohio State offense vs. Minnesota's defense: If Minnesota is giving up 600 yards per game to MAC teams, then they are in for a long day today. I don't care how fired up Gopher Nation is, 600 YPG to the MAC equates to Ohio State putting up exactly as many yards as Jim Tressel wants.
Beanie's ankle is questionable, so I say give him the week off. Dress him but don't use him unless you have to. Maurice Wells should be adequate to hold down the fort.
This week Brian Robiskie should see his first consistent safety help of the season. Expect the Gophers to spend a lot of time in cover 2 and cover 3 to try to keep the big plays in front of them, as a result, the running game should be more open than it has been. Additionally, the tight ends should be open in the middle of the field with the Gophers spending a lot of time in zone defense.
In the end, it really doesn't really matter what the Gophers do on defense. They are TERRIBLE!
Ohio State defense vs. Minnesota's offense. The Gophers will look to continue to spread the field on the Buckeyes and use short to intermediate routes to move the chains. That has been kind of the recipe all season long. Adam Weber and the Gophers are slightly more vertical than the other spread offenses that the Buckeyes have seen this year. The Gophers will not have time for the deep routes and will have to settle for the shorter stuff. The lateral speed of the Buckeyes will render these routes rather ineffective.
Weber is also fairly athletic but not as athletic as Jake Locker, so look for the Gophers to try to spread the field and then run Weber up the middle. Tim Brewster has to have seen the success that Jake Locker had running the ball between the tackles and will obviously look to capitalize on it with quarterback and tailback draws.
Expect the Buckeyes to adjust to the mobile quarterback by playing a little more man under defense to free up the linebackers to make plays on the quarterback, but the Buckeyes have got to be leery of sophomore wide receiver Eric Decker on the outside. Decker, 6'2" 215lbs, is a big physical wide receiver with big play capability. He will present a nice challenge for Ohio State's stand out corner Malcolm Jenkins.
What to watch for:
-Another interesting college football game?
-Will any other starters get injured in a game that is not even close to competitive?
-Will Antonio Henton get more than a couple of throws this time in trash time?
-Will Rob Schoenhoft stop throwing the ball at his receiver's feet?
-Will Marcus Williams get into the game by halftime?
Don't be surprised if:
-The Gophers don't come out after halftime.
-Brian Rolle, Thaddeus Gibson, and Austin Spittler get more play time than James Laurinaitis, Larry Grant, and Marcus Freeman.
-The Gophers are actually worse than Northwestern.
If I were a gambling man:
I would bet that there is a better game to watch. I would take Ohio State -21.5 and the over. Minnesota is not good and Ohio State will score as many as they want. I am not sure that the running game is totally on track, so I expect to see a few long TDs through the air. Additionally, Minnesota's offense should be good enough to contribute a couple of scores to the over.
This is your last shot to earn Props as the Prognosticator of the Week. If you are the best you will get your props in my wrap. Enter Here. There is no prize accept knowing that you are smarter than everyone else, isn't that enough?
Ohio State 47 Minnesota 13.