NORTH DAKOTA ST. 37, GOPHERS 24
The recap: For the third time in five years, an FCS-level team visited Minneapolis and embarrassed its hosts. This time, the culprits were a Gophers defense that couldn't stop North Dakota State's balanced offense and quarterbacks who threw costly interceptions.
What was learned: The offense is improving, even as the Gophers try to figure out who should be the quarterback and how to protect him. But the lack of pressure on the opponent's quarterback, and frequent missed tackles, has infected every part of the defense, which forced a lower-level team to punt only once.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:
• David Cobb carried the ball for the first time this season, effectively announcing the Gophers' intention to forego his redshirt season and play him as a freshman. Cobb gained only 3 yards on his carry, but he'll get more action.
• Another reserve tailback, Devon Wright, made one of the night's biggest plays on special teams, bursting through NDSU blocks to topple kickoff returner D.J. McNorton at the 11 yard line. And sophomore linebacker Aaron Hill made his season debut at linebacker, after sitting out the first three games because of a hamstring injury.
• The Gophers offensive line had big problems keeping the Bison out of the backfield. NDSU recorded nine tackles for loss, including five sacks, both more than any Minnesota opponent this season.
UP NEXT: NO. 19 MICHIGAN
11 a.m. Saturday, Michigan Stadium
TV: Big Ten Network
Records: Gophers 1-3, Michigan 4-0
The skinny: The Gophers have not faced Michigan since 2008, which is a shame because the Wolverines suffered through a 15-22 stretch under former coach Rich Rodriguez. Now the 19th-ranked Wolverines have begun to more closely resemble the team that has beaten the Gophers 36 times in their past 39 meetings since 1968. Behind junior quarterback Denard Robinson, the Big Ten's leading rusher at 138.0 yards per game, Michigan has rolled up 1,000 rushing yards already this season.