So maybe the purveyors of doom and gloom this year (looking in the mirror) jumped the gun a little on this Gophers team (gulp). After week one, the Gophers have a possible 4-0 start looking them square in the face if they play their cards right. The switch to a rush first, second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth offense may allow them a route to save Tim Brewster's job. Whether that's good or bad is beside the point now for those, like me, who pay big bucks to sit in plastic chairs and watch 18-22 year old kids throw around a pigskin. More wins? Bring it on.
After a dominating ground performance which underlay the Gophers' 24-17 victory over Dasher-less Middle Tennessee, the Gophers return home to face a soupcan this Saturday. The 11am start sees Minnesota paying South Dakota several hundred thousand dollars for the benefit of a loss and a trip to the Mall of America for their fans.
To those who might respond with Appalachian State, North Dakota State, or for those with memory problems, Jacksonville State (or even the Gophers' plodding victory over the Jackrabbits last year), I respond: get real. South Dakota rushed for 116 yards, passed for 104 yards on 10 completions, and tallied 7 points at Central Florida. If you think that looks appetizing for our young defense, check out Central Florida's offensive stats: 46 rushes for 231 yards (5.02 ypc), 18/22 for 241 yards through the air, and 38 points. The Gophers should have little reason to do anything but exactly what they did last week: run the ball, control the clock, dominate the defense, and win a quick, easy Saturday afternoon tilt at TCF.
Who should you be looking for as South Dakota's star performers? Try RB Chris Ganious, QB Dante Warren, and WR Will Powell. I use the term "star" very loosely.
What else to look for? The game should be well enough in hand so that Brewster gives some backups serious playing time and let the young defense gain some needed experience in advance of the challenge of USC next week. I look particularly to MarQueis Gray, Moses Alipate, Hayo Carpenter (currently residing in the top 5 of JUCO busts, all-time), Donnell Kirkwood, Kenny Watkins (yes, Kenny Watkins), and other backup DBs getting some run.
What else to say? This is a game the Gophers should win easily. I believe their game plan and talent advantage should make that happen. In year four of the Brewster regime, it's to his credit that Minnesota is at this point.
Prediction: Minnesota 44 - South Dakota 14