So the Gophers are 0-2, losing to USC on the road and losing at home to New Mexico State when they were favored by 9 million points. Or 20. But it might as well have been 9 million because Minnesota lost and didn't look great doing it. Miami of Ohio has only played one game and lost, but it was on the road at Mizzou. And all of this means...the Gophers are favored? And not just by a point or two- but 4 1/2 according to bodog.net!
I...I don't get it. I understand the idea of Vegas betting lines are to try and get action placed evenly on both teams, so the lines often don't reflect a true gauge of how one team is better than the other. But 4.5 points? Minnesota has not led by 4 points- or ANY- so far this year. They've played about 3 solid quarters out of eight against a good team and a not-so-good team.
Then again, maybe New Mexico State is better than we thought? We looked at their horrid stat lines two weeks ago against MAC school Ohio, and didn't even blink that Minnesota were 20 point favorites. The Aggies were dominated by Ohio, couldn't run the ball, and only put up big passing yardage (352 yards) when the game was well out of hand late in the third and the fourth quarter. The Gophers had a terrible first half against USC, but rebounded nicely, so it only made sense that upward trajectory would carry them past the Aggies with ease.
The Aggies scored early and their offense cranked out over 400 yards while Minnesota failed to show up in the first half- again. The Gopher offense moved the ball some, but couldn't finish drives (two picks inside Aggie territory and the fatal stuff on 4th and 1 at the goal line), and by the time the defense recovered in the second half (at least somewhat) it was too late.
Last week could be looked at as a lesson in not putting too much stock in a team's opening game, but at the same time, New Mexico State is a WAC school, and Minnesota should not be losing to WAC schools, especially at home. They were outplayed, but had chances and just couldn't capitalize. The scariest part- well other than what happened with Coach Kill- is that they failed to show up in the first half. I thought that type of stuff was gone with the Brewster Era, but as GN pointed out in the Nugz this morning, DC Tracy Claeys admitted some of his guys may have overlooked NMSU just a little bit.
That cannot happen again, and I'm doubting Coach Kill and his staff will let it. Of course, this is also one of the last times Minnesota will be favored against anyone this season (they don't provide lines against 1-AA opponents, but considering the Gophs recent history against schools from the Dakotas, they WILL be favored against NDSU next week, right? RIGHT?) so the coaches won't have to worry about over confidence much more anyway.
So I'm not going to sit here and look at Miami's 17-6 loss to Missouri and crunch stats and try and figure out what it all means. It was the first game for both the Redhawks and Tigers, and I'm guessing neither team were happy with their performance, as both offenses failed to crack 300 total yards. Miami had trouble running (just 2.1 yards per carry) and made a lot of short throws (QB Zac Dysert averaged just five yards per attempt), but as we found out last week with NMSU, that means nothing. New Mexico State's offense was essentially useless against Ohio, but our defense made them look like the 1998 Vikings in the first half last week. If the Gophers somehow overlook the Redhawks, it'll be the same thing.
There's not an area Minnesota can't improve upon and play better than the previous two games. Even Da'Jon McKnight, who was an absolute monster against NMSU, had that one crucial drop on third down in the red zone. Still, if Da'Jon wants to give us a 9 catch 146 yard day every week, I'd be A-ok with that one, but we need everyone else to step it up too. The defense need to register a sack. Maybe even a couple. The secondary could not leave guys wide open. The offensive line could start pushing the defense back on run plays instead of the other way around, the running backs could make something happen, and Q could be more consistent.
4 1/2 point favorites? Ridiculous, but maybe it's working for Vegas. I just know that after two weeks, the Gophers shouldn't be considered 4 1/2 points better than anybody in D1 football, and I'm guessing the coaching staff has been hammering that point home to the team all week. Miami is a good team with a good coach (former Michigan State OC Don Treadwell) and they can and will win at TCF Bank this Saturday if the Gophers don't play four good quarters. I'm hoping for a better effort and better results, and I just hope Coach Kill gets better and will be back on the sidelines. That's something I think all Gopher fans should be in favor of.