Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How important is this game?

Coming into the season I predicted 5 wins for my beloved Gophs. That number assumed a loss at Bowling Green, so the Gophs are already proving me wrong... which is fantastic, even though I don't like being wrong (ask my wife!).

With a 3-0 start, an impressive performance against Bowling Green, a team with increased expectations and a final non-conference tilt at home this weekend, the B word has creeped into the collective subconscious of Gopher Nation. And if the B word (I'm going to avoid actually typing the word, so as not to jinx it... sort of like not talking to your pitcher in the middle of a no-hitter) is going to continue to be a possibility, then Saturday's game against Florida Atlantic is a biggie.

What do we know about FAU? Well, we know that FAU beat us in Miami last year, we know that Rusty Smith has the ability to throw all over the field on us (last year Smith completed 27 passes for a staggering 463 yards, over 17 yards per reception and 5 touchdowns through the air), we know that FAU has lost big to Texas, was shut out by Michigan State (in a downpour) and that the Owls passing game has been decent so far this year, but did not look good against the Spartans (again, in a downpour).

And what do we know about our Gophers? We know that Coach Brewster is approaching this game with extreme caution (or hyperbole, it's hard to tell which), that Gopher players are not going to let the Owls sneak up on them, that coming off of a mediocre performance against Northern Illinois the Gophers responded with a killer instinct against Bowling Green, that the Gophers are light years ahead of where they were as a team when they faced FAU last year, and that finishing the non-conference schedule with 4 wins would be absolutely huge for this program.

Conclusion? As of nowMinnesota is favored by anywhere from 6.5 to 7.5 points, depending on what site you look at, based on home field advantage and being a Big10 school playing a Sun Belt school. There are still questions about how the Gophers can perform against more elite talent, and the Owls should be a good step up in talent from the competition we have played so far, and thus a good litmus test going into the Big10 season.

Prediction? I predict the Gophers rebound well after a poor performance against Montana State last week and play a much more crisp game with less mistakes. FAU will still move the ball, but the Gophers will do plenty of bending, but won't completely break.

Gophers win 45 - 31.

I will be out of town for work for the rest of the week, not getting back into MSP until late evening on Friday night, so this may be my last post before the game. With that in mind...


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