2009 Minnesota Football
Minnesota Gophers: Heading into Conference play
The U heads to Evanston, Illinois Saturday looking to start out their Big Ten conference play with a victory and to find their long missing running game. Through three games, the Gophers are averaging just 85.7 yards per game on the ground for a national ranking of 105 th. Duane Bennett is leading Minnesota in rushing with 121 yards on 30 carries for 1 touchdown and DeLeon Eskridge has rushed for 103 yards on 22 carries.
While Northwestern’s offensive statistics may look pretty good from the outside looking in (27 th ranked nationally, 431 yards/36 points per game), a closer look will reveal that the Wildcats have played inferior opponents. Northwestern defeated Towson handily in week one 47-14, squeaked by Eastern Michigan in week two 27-24, and fell prey to the Orange last week 37-34.
Minnesota is coming off a hard fought loss against the number six team in the country, California Golden Bears and Heisman candidate running back Jahvid Best. While Minnesota has not looked impressive against any of their three opponents, they are playing typical grind it out, Big Ten football and are 2-1. The schedule gets very difficult from here on out, so winning against Northwestern is crucial.
Expect to see the Minnesota offense attempt to jumpstart the running game in the first half, but ultimately resort to doing what this team does best, pass the football. Eric Decker is too good of a weapon to not maximize. I was very happy to see JuCo wide receiver Heyo Carpenter and future quarterback MarQueis Gray get involved last week and expect to see more of them in the following weeks.
Injury News- Minnesota returns starting cornerback Marcus Sherels. Northwestern returns starting cornerback Sherrick McManis, starting middle linebacker Nate Williams, and backup running back Jaravin Matthews.
2008- The Gophers lost 24-17 last season to the Wildcats behind quarterback Mike Kafka’s 217 rushing yards and 143 yards passing. Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber threw 51 times for 327 yards. Eric Decker had 62 yards on 7 catches.
2009- Northwestern was shredded through the air by Syracuse wide receiver Mike Williams to the tune of 209 yards on 11 catches and 2 touchdowns. Expect more of the same from Minnesota wide receiver Eric Decker Saturday. Minnesota will continue to try to find their ground game, but the passing attack will be the key to victory.
Prediction- Minnesota Gophers 31 Northwestern Wildcats 17
Recruiting Scoop- WR/RB Marquise Hill (Trinity Catholic, St Louis, MO) decommitted last week from Missouri after visiting Minnesota’s campus. Hill committed to the Gophers this week. He chose the Gophers over offers from Mizzou, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, UCLA, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.
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