Thursday, September 17, 2009

Real Football Insight: Cal vs. Minnesota

Yet another game of national importance involving a Big Ten team is taking place up in Minneapolis this weekend. Cal is coming to the new TCF Bank Stadium to play the Gophers (11 AM ESPN). We can only hope the Gophers are not wearing their dehydrated urine/banana color unis this week.

As a life-long Badger, it pains me to say this, but I think the Gophers may be on to something up in Minneapolis. Sure, they struggled somewhat in their first two wins, but they did win on the road and stopped the option football of a decent Air Force team. This game is huge for the Gopher football program. A chance to knock off a Top Ten team in their new on-campus stadium that has the fans all juiced up. To be honest,I know dick about Cal but I think the Gophers have a decent shot to win this game. Since I am woefully uninformed about Cal, I won't make a prediction, but I am going to give this one a 7 High Lifes out of 10 High Lifes on the Miller High Life watchibility scale.

Since I don't have a good read on this game we will turn it over Gopher alum and season ticket-holder Gopher Bandanna Man, a.k.a. Torto for his take on this match-up:

Minnesota (2-0) will be hosting the # 8 Cal Golden Bears (2-0) this Saturday, while coming off an emotional win over Air Force and opening their new on-campus stadium. And while the nickname for the new digs is still up in the air (The Bank, the Vault, and the Brickhouse have all been thrown out there, but none have formally stuck yet…), what Minnesota needs to do to have a chance to beat Cal is not. Slow down running back Jahvid Best.

Best, one of the fastest backs in the NCAA, will likely end up a Doak Walker and Heisman Trophy finalist and has rushed for 280 yards in his first two games of 2009. The responsibility of slowing Best falls largely on the Gophers trio of senior linebackers, Simoni Lawrence, Lee Campbell, and national defensive player of the week, Nate Triplett. If they can keep themselves free to roam and shed blockers effectively as they did against Air Force, the Gophers can give themselves a chance to win. If they can’t and Best runs wild – it could easily be 28 – 0 by the half. The Gopher secondary has shown itself to be fairly competent, but hasn’t really been tested much as of yet. They could be the wild card in this game, particularly if Minnesota has some success in slowing Best down.

Offensively, quarterback Adam Weber and Co. has to show up for more than 1 quarter this week to make this a game. Both in the Air Force and Syracuse games, it took Adam Weber 3 quarters to shake off the hangover he appeared to have and move the ball. Wideout Eric Decker continues to pile up big numbers, but has yet to find the end zone in 2009. Look for him to get in this week, possibly multiple times. If the Gophers fall behind early, look for him to have even more inflated numbers while the team plays catchup. The ball-carrying duties will be shared by RB duo D’uane Bennett and DeLeon Eskeridge again. Their success is largely predicated on how well the offensive line can continue to gel. If the running game is stalled in the first half, the Gophs may fall back into their shotgun formations early. MarQuis Gray may or may not show up in the ‘Wildcat’ formation again. It all depends on whether Brewster is willing to have him on the field again this week after a bad fumble at a key point in the Air Force game.

Emotions should ride high again for the Gophers this week, as they try and pull out a signature win for Coach Brew. Unfortunately, they may just be outclassed for this year’s matchup.

Predictions: Cal 31 – Minnesota 20

Cal Player of the Game: Jahvid Best rushes for 135 yards and 2 TDs

Minnesota Player of the Game: Adam Weber throws for 310 yards and 2
Excellent analysis there Bandanna Man. look for future Gopher related tidbits from Torto throughout the season. I also asked him to take some photos of anyone wearing Zubaz at the game, so hopefully we have a great recap of the game early next week.


  1. I had no idea that Minnesota was building a new college fball stadium, much less had opened it, until I saw a bit of their game last weekend.

  2. That place looks 1,000,000 percent better than the Metrodome. Actually, I bet Stillwater High School's stadium is cooler than the dome.

  3. There is truth in what you say Mr. Fitz-Hume. Its hard not to love The Bank already - given what we had before. I envy the students who won't ever have to ride a bus over to the Dome for a game.

  4. Boo. You were 3 TDs off on your Best prediction!

  5. Oh, come on! I was nearly dead on with all the other predictions, including the final score.

    I daresay I was... ...Nostrotortous

  6. That should be the name on the back of your Rob Deer shirt next year.