Thursday, October 15, 2009

An obligatory look at Minnesota

Ok, the real Minnesota logo…

About the University

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (known locally as the U of M or the U) is a public research university located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. It is the oldest and largest part of the University of Minnesota system and has the fourth-largest main campus student body in the United States, with 51,140 students in 2008-2009.

I swear to God I'd bitch-slap anyone in the north that called their school "the U."

Cool Fact

The University developed Gopher, a precursor to the World Wide Web which used hyperlinks to connect documents across computers on the internet. However, the version produced by CERN was favored by the public since it was freely distributed and could more easily handle multimedia webpages.

Ok, I admit not really cool, but cool in a computer geeky kinda way; Hey I'm a software Engineer and did not know this so sue me.

Football related datum

Current Record: 4 – 2
Last year's Record: 7 – 6 – lost to Kansas in the Insight Bowl

The scary side of things

Minnesota's punter Blake Haudan has really been consistent this year and really poses a big threat.


Ok, joking aside we all know what will give Penn State fits but before we get to Mr. Decker there is something brewing in the shadows that we should all be weary of. Minnesota is ranked 1 and 2 in the conference in punt and kick returns, respectively. Penn State's kick coverage MUST play the best game of the year to date if they want to contain the Gophers' damage. The punt return numbers may be a bit misleading because Minnesota has only had 3 returns all season but the kick return team is for real. Troy Stoudermire is 17th nationally averaging just over 28 yards per return and is second only to Ray Fisher of Indiana in conference. His longest return was 54 yards which means that average (over 20 returns) is legit since he hasn't taken one to the house… yet. Penn State better be prepared. Think of it this way, we know Decker is going to get his catches and may gaff PSU with a long one, but that won't be nearly as bad as a kickoff return for a touchdown. All it takes is one and it completely changes the game. Be very afraid.

That brings us to Mr. Unstoppable. Here is what Joe Paterno had to say about Eric Decker.

Well, you've always got to be aware of the superior wideouts such as Decker. Decker is a great football player. There's a great chemistry with him and the quarterback (Adam Weber). And the quarterback has so much confidence in him, he'll make throws to him that you ordinarily wouldn't make. You've got to know where he is all the time. If you don't, he'll catch seven, eight, 10 passes for a lot of yards and a couple scores.

Decker leads the Big Ten in receptions per game and receiving yards per game and is 7th and 9th in the nation. Considering all the pass happy teams out there that's pretty damn impressive. Decker already has 46 receptions on the year; in comparison, PSU's leading receiver (Derek Moye) has 21. Penn State must make someone else beat them.

The not-so-scary side of things

What makes Decker's numbers so impressive is that the Gopher's offense isn't. Minnesota ranks dead last in rushing offense and total offense and no better than 8 in any category. Considering Minnesota throws for only 205 yards per game and Decker catches 115 of that it's hard to see what everyone else is doing. Take Decker off this team and they are in trouble.

Oh by the way, a stat the defensive coaches might want to look at: Minnesota is 10th in the conference and 93rd in the nation in allowing sacks. If Penn State's D linemen aren't licking their chops they should be.

Minnesota is giving up over 162 yards per game on the ground and rank 9th in total defense in conference. Penn State should be able to move the ball.

Game Outlook

The game plan for Penn State should be simple, be VERY careful of the Gophers' special teams, contain Decker as best you can and make someone else beat you. Penn State should be able to move the ball on a defense that isn't so great against the run and doesn't possess the kind of defensive line that makes you lose sleep at night. Minnesota is getting outscored by their opponents by 10 more points in the first quarter: control the ball, get some points early and keep Decker's impact manageable. If Penn State doesn't make the soul-sucking mistakes they made against Iowa, they should win.

TNL's Prediction
Penn State 24
Minnesota 14


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