Saturday was not fun. The Badgers did essentially whatever they wanted to do to our Gophers on both sides of the ball. They moved the ball at will, and they stuffed our offense all day long.
Not good times.
We're supposed to be highly against moral victories, and I get that, but with what this team has been through in the last few years, I think it's okay to look at areas where we've improved.
Jerry Kill said it numerous times in interviews last week, and he's completely right: Wisconsin is a team that is two plays away from being undefeated and a top 3 BCS team. They are a damn good football team, and they showed it to us on Saturday.
And that, I think, is something we can take away from the loss to Wisconsin. Keeping in mind that I realize this was a completely ugly game to watch, but what was ugly about this game was different than what has been ugly in the past.
Think about the Michigan game... this was a game where we got absolutely trounced on the score board and all over the field. But a good amount of the problem with the Michigan game was that we made a boatload of mistakes. Michigan is a good, solid, talented team, and certainly are better than the Gophers right now and should beat them.
What you saw against Michigan was a good football team that beat a poor football team that was making a ton of mistakes. But Michigan is not 58 points better than Minnesota... at least not 58 points better than the Gopher team we have right now.
By comparison, what I saw on Saturday in a 29-point loss to Wisconsin, wasn't a football team that didn't know what it was doing and that was making a lot of costly mistakes, but instead a team that is still immature that was beaten by a team with superior talent that executed nearly flawlessly for 4 quarters.
In other words, this game, and the 29-point difference in score, had more to do with how good and disciplined Wisconsin is, not how bad and undisciplined the Gophers are.
Although Wisconsin scored a touchdown on its opening drive, and rent-a-QB completed every pass he threw, the Gophers did an admirable job slowing down the Badgers on that drive.
MarQueis Gray did not have a great day as a QB, completing just 14 passes and throwing an interception. But off the top of my head I can think of at least 3 balls that Q threw that should have been caught. Additionally, the interception that he did throw, could, at least in part, be blamed on John Rabe for not adjusting.
From a rushing standpoint we just could not get any momentum because Wisconsin is just to big, talented and disciplined.
From a defensive perspective, we were victim to the Russell Wilson show. (And by the way, how much do the B1G announcers and studio hosts LOVE Wilson? Good heavens am I glad he's only around for a year because the love-fest rivals the old John Madden/Brett Favre infidelities.) His accuracy is sick. His play-action fake destroyed us, and the sideline was open every single time he wanted it. Besides all of that, and outside of the opening series, his offensive line gave him all day to throw the ball, and when he ran out of time he found enough room to get yards to keep the ball moving.
This is a Minnesota football team that is getting better, and they are showing signs of life in all aspects of the game (I didn't even touch on special teams which accounted for all of our points), but they ran into a team that was hitting on all cylinders on Saturday, and could probably hang with any team in the country right now. (How much would you love to see Wisconsin's offense face LSU's defense?)
Moral victory? Sure. But at least it's something.