Friday, November 14, 2008

UW-Minnesota preview

It would be easy to look at this game, if you're a Badger fan, and be really confident. After all, UW ran for over 400 yards Saturday, and Minnesota has looked pretty mediocre the past few weeks while threatening to squander its 7-1 start and end up in a familiar bowl destination -- Detroit. What's more, their best player, Eric Decker, is out, which means Badger DBs don't necessarily have to wear cups.

Maybe it's the Bob Bummer in me, but I don't see this being a one-sided game. Here's why:

-Our success came against a severely depleted Indiana team. The confidence the offense took away from that game is big, but executing the same basic plays probably won't yield the same boffo results against Minnesota. I sure as hell don't expect David Gilreath to carry the ball eight times again.

-Much of Minnesota's early success this season came from forcing turnovers. We have been, to put it politely, turnover-prone this season. I'm penciling Dustin Sherer in for two interceptions, which may or may not be costly.

-As Clint Brewster was quick to remind Taylor Mehlhaff, last year the Gophers played us much closer than they should have, given how rotten they were. This leads me to believe that Tim Brewster, for as much crap I throw his way for being something of a used-car salesmen in football coach's gear, is an above-average motivator who isn't going to let his team's recent skid spiral out of control. Especially in what is arguably the biggest rivalry game for both schools.

-Decker's out, but they get Ralph Spry back.

-Their running game is showing life with this Eskridge guy. I'm worried about Jae McFadden, who said he's ready to play Indiana tomorrow. Dude, check that concussion again. The defense ain't the same with Culmer St. Jean in the middle.

Still think we're going to win, but unlike previous Wisconsin-Minnesota games at Camp Randall, think it's going to be close. Unlike last year, we seem to have an idea of what to do against the Spread, which is nice. I don't see it being the high-scoring affair common in this series this century.

Wisconsin 20, Minnesota 16

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