A frustrating game yesterday and I don't recall ever being so disappointed in a win. But it was a win and we move on to Iowa week (aka Hate Week).
Hats off to the defense who played well. A couple big plays were given up, but a handful of big plays were made and the defense gets the win.
None of the other units deserve a passing grade. Offensive Line played their worst game in a long time, Weber was Weber, the receivers didn't get open and dropped a few catchable balls, special teams played poorly but were saved a bit by Eric Ellstad. One can only hope that the lackadaisical play can be attributed to the team looking past the Jackrabbits and ahead to Iowa.
So let's do the same. SDSU is over and done. While we came close to losing to a second FCS team in three years, we didn't. Up next are the Hawkeyes. You may not know this but Iowa beat our Gophers in 2008 to the tune of 55-0. Now we'll get on the bus (literally) and head to Iowa City to face an angry Hawkeye squad.
The bad news? Iowa was once believing they had an outside shot at a BCS Title game (with some help), but consecutive losses have them out of that picture and this team is frothing at the mouth to get a win. A win secures them second in the conference with a very good shot at being a second Big Ten team in a BCS game. Having this game be a formality would have been more desirable for Gopher fans, but now Iowa has a significant reason to beat the Gopher and beat them soundly.
The Good news? Well, Iowa is not unbeatable. Don't get me wrong, I'm not predicting a win here. Iowa should be favored and they are the better team this year. But using some transitive logic there is no reason to believe that we cannot play with Iowa. Here are a handful of reasons why Iowa is human and therefor beatable.
Northwestern beat them, we beat Northwestern.
Michigan State led before a last second TD earned the W for Iowa, we beat Michigan State.
- Iowa has started slow and allowed nearly every team on their schedule the opportunity to beat them. They have earned many of those wins late, but play Russian Roulette long enough and bad things usually happen.
- Iowa is starting a freshman QB who played well at Ohio State but was terrible vs. Northwestern
Once again, I'm not calling this a coin flip or even that the Gophers are guaranteed to do anything. But after playing very well at Penn State and at Ohio State, despite the loss, the Hawkeyes have allowed every team on their schedule the opportunity to win. So what will the Gophers have to do? it comes down to two things.
- Weber needs to repeat Michigan State week. He needs to wear the same underwear, eat the same foods, kiss the same women, etc. Weber has been bad for much of the season, but he has shown flashes of carrying this offense. An average game, an inconsistent game, a typical 2009 Weber game will not cut it. He doesn't need 400+ yards but he needs 65% or higher accuracy and a few big plays.
- Defense needs to contain the big play. Make Iowa march down the field little by little. The Iowa offense is good and may be able to string together 10 play drives, but make them prove it over and over. Big plays cannot happen, especially with a freshman QB who may be prone to a mistake or two.
It would seem like just asking two things wouldn't be too much to ask, but I'm afraid it might be. But it brings me back to what we started with. The SDSU game was not pretty but maybe this team was looking ahead. A very dangerous and immature trademark, but just maybe they will learned a valuable lesson in focus and intensity for Iowa week.
If they need further motivation, dump the SDSU tape and show them 55-0.