Parity Parade Includes Florida Atlantic
During the last 20 years Minnesota has
lost to several “Joe Blows” of the college football world, but
Saturday’s 42-39 loss to Florida Atlantic has an element the others
can’t match. The losing legacy of Minnesota football during the last
couple of decades includes losses to Pacific, San Jose State, Hawaii,
Toledo but last Saturday’s defeat came from a school that has been
fielding a football team for only seven years and was a touchdown
underdog playing in its home area.
The Gopher loss in Miami to Sun Coast
Conference member Florida Atlantic ranks with the most disappointing
defeats in memory but while the result can be described as surprising it
wasn’t shocking. The Gophers had seven turnovers, including four
interceptions, and were their usual feeble selves defensively. “We
played very poorly,” coach Tim Brewster told WCCO radio listeners
after the game. “I coached very poorly.”
Minnesota followed a similar pattern as in its first two games against
“Joe Blows” Bowling Green and Miami of Ohio. The Gophers were often
ineffective in the first half, better in the second. The most troubling
constant in splitting the first two games, then losing in Miami, is that
the Gopher defense is unable to stop the opponent. The Gophers gave up
67 points in their first two games. Last Saturday Florida Atlantic
scored 42 points and came up with 580 total yards. The Owls came into
the game averaging 380 yards and lost the previous Saturday, 42-6 to
Oklahoma State. The WCCO radio game day crew was at a loss to pick a
defensive Player of the Game and only chose an Offensive Player of the
Game, Eric Decker.
Reality is that the Gophers aren’t the
only ones losing to “Joe Blows.” Not that it makes things less
disappointing but last year Colorado lost to Montana State in Boulder.
New Hampshire beat Northwestern in Evanston. Then this year Appalachian
State shook the planet defeating No. 5 ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Also this season Northern Iowa has a win over Iowa State, East Carolina
beat North Carolina and last Friday night Troy State (remember when
people used to say, “Troy who?”) defeated Oklahoma State on its home
Parity in college football is a buzz word.
There are lots of good players and some play for the “Joe Blows.” That brings us to the Gophers talent gap,
particularly on defense. The unit’s problems wouldn’t disappear but
imagine how much better the Gophers could be with a couple of high
impact players like former Minnesota prep stars James Laurinatis,
Ohio State’s all-American linebacker, and Trevor Laws, Notre
Dame’s best defensive lineman.
Brewster’s legacy will be determined by
whether he can recruit those kinds of players from this state and
elsewhere. He gets a yes vote here but in the meantime the Gophers can
be thankful they play Purdue at home Saturday rather than on the road.
Trying to stop the 3-0 Boilermakers will be challenging enough without
having to face an intimidating Big Ten Conference crowd.
Purdue has the league’s best quarterback
in Curtis Painter and several receivers he likes to throw to
including explosive wide receiver Dorien Bryant. The
Boilermakers had about 402 yards of total offense after just the first
Saturday on their way to 586 yards and a 45-22 win over Central
Defensively, Purdue isn’t as impressive
and at times was off balance against Central Michigan’s passing game in
the second half Saturday. That sets up the possibility of a fourth
consecutive high scoring game for both the Gophers and Purdue. The
Boilermakers are no “Joe Blows” and will be a big favorite, easily the
best team the Gophers have seen so far. Still, no predictions here on
the winner or the score because there are too many surprises in college
football these days.