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5 Quick Hits From the Wisconsin - Minnesota Game, and the JG2112 Big 11 Rankings

2003, 2005, and 2006. Those are the last times Minnesota defeated Wisconsin (Rhys Lloyd hello), Michigan and Iowa in a rivalry game, respectively. For the decade, Minnesota is 5-22 in rivalry games. The only reason it won't become 5-24 this year is because the Big Ten thought it was a good idea not to have Michigan and Minnesota not play in 2009, the 100th anniversary of the Jug rivalry.

Whatever. If you're a Gopher fan (why else are you here except to gloat) what happened yesterday ought to tick you off. Yesterday was the kind of game that we should be able to expect victory in - an opposing QB in his first road start, playing against our D with 9 senior starters, playing in our shiny new ballpark, with upwards of 90% of our own fans there, on ESPN, and who in the world can defend Eric Decker?

Instead, the usual suspects lined up to defeat Minnesota - stupidity, the will of the opposition, and the inability of our coaching staff to adapt. When it happened in 2007, I chalked it up to inexperience. When it happened last year, I was less accepting but willing to see how the team would adapt.

We're in year 3. It doesn't matter that the coordinators have changed - the main players, the KEY players, are the same, and most importantly, the guy setting the tone and leading the ship is the same. For all the complaining about the talent level, Brewster primarily relies on kids (Weber, Decker, Small, Triplett, Campbell) that arrived here under the previous regime. For all the bluster, the bravado, the hyped scheduling, the "great" recruiting, while Minnesota is still above .500, my children have still never seen a rivalry trophy, being held by a Gopher in victory, in person.

John Cooper went 111-43-4, including a 70-30-4 conference record and 3 conference titles, for Ohio State from 1988 - 2000. His 2-10-1 record against the Buckeyes' main rival led to his firing.

Tim Brewster is now 11-19 as the Gophers' head coach, with a 4-14 conference record, and a 0-7 record against his 3 major rivals. It's time to start winning the games that matter to the fanbase.

5 Quick Big Ten Thoughts -

(1) I said two things in my Friday preview that I'll repeat again here: (a) what I would give for Wisconsin's success, and (b) how good would John Clay look in the Gophers' offense with Eric Decker stretching the field?

(2) I have no idea what to think of Purdue in anticipation of their visit this week. Help me out: Purdue almost beats Oregon in Eugene, who destroys Cal in Eugene, who comfortably beat Minnesota at TCF. That's no way to determine game matchups, and I'm not doing it here, but it doesn't help analysis either.

One consideration - RB Ralph Bolden had similar numbers to John Clay coming into week 5, and he has a better yards per carry average. Great.

(3) My prevailing opinion is that Tim Brewster is little different as a football coach than Ron Zook - they're both great recruiters but leave a lot to be desired as in-game coaches.

Anyone think Ron Zook sees 2010 as the Illini head coach? I don't see how it's possible, and this guy's team played in the Rose Bowl two years ago. The regression of Juice Williams is the single most surprising development (or lack thereof, I suppose) of the young season.

(4) There is a marked difference between the talent level at Ohio State and every other team in the conference. However, there is no other team, save Michigan, who will fall harder if their starting QB is out for any game.

(5) Seriously. If LB Gary Tinsley wasn't suspended for (EDIT: I guess the articles I read last weekend were incorrect according to Buck Bravo, and therefore I'll take the information down despite the fact I've found no retraction on-line - help me out), what in the world did Tim Dandridge and Cedric McKinley do? McKinley's absence directly affected the game. What a huge disappointment, and it has to fall on Brewster, who is responsible for keeping his players in line with such important games coming up.

The JG2112 Big Eleven Rankings (back after a 2-week break):

(1) Ohio State (4-1) - their game against Iowa on 11/15 will determine the conference title;

(2) Iowa (5-0) - they've never seen the Rich Rodriguez spread, and they play to the level of their competition. How will they play this Saturday night? An intriguing game;

(3) Wisconsin (5-0) - they will get found out later this year, heck, probably next week in Columbus. Still, they have been impressive;

(4) Penn State (4-1) - they rushed for over 340 yards against Illinois. I expect them to do little different against Minnesota on the 17th;

(5) Michigan (4-1) - That's three amazing Tate Forcier comebacks now in 5 games, Saturday's being unsuccessful. However inconsistent they are, and they certainly are, they are a reason to curse your TiVo for running out of time;

(6) Minnesota (3-2) - The holes that should be gone are still there. It's up to Fisch and Cosgrove to close them, because some powerful offenses are awaiting the Gophers the next few weeks;

(7) Northwestern (3-2) - Meh.

(8) Indiana (3-2) - they should have worn all cream jerseys and defended The Rock Saturday night.

(9) Michigan State (2-3) - almost handed away the game Saturday in epic SPARTY NO!!!! fashion. If they figure out their rushing attack by Halloween, however, the Gophers are in trouble;

(10) Purdue (1-4) - What a weird team. They almost beat Oregon, they got shellacked by Northern Illinois, they should have beaten Notre Dame (if only Danny Hope understood the purpose of time outs), and they let an 18-point lead evaporate against Northwestern. I expect them to lay an egg this Saturday, but they do have a pretty darn good offense. Who knows? Time to Hammer and Rail it this week and figure it out.

And finally.

(11) Illinois (1-3) - this team is putrid. Whoever mocked me for predicting that Illinois would lose to Missouri and Cincinnati, well, I'm waiting. The underachievement is unbelievable, and it's looking to me like this is where Brian Kelly should be coaching in 2010. At that point I have no idea who I'll compare Brewster to for Big 10 conference coaches. 

Actually, this is finally:

A November 14, 2009 update:

South Dakota State is 3-1 after losing 21-14 at Cal Poly this past Saturday (yes, that is the Cal Poly that should have defeated Wisconsin last year). Next up this week: at Missouri State.