• "I am firmer in the belief that we can win a Big Ten championship."
    Gophers head coach Tim Brewster during his news conference before spring practice
    When the Gophers wrap-up each practice, they huddle together and shout, "1-2-3 BIG TEN CHAMPS ROSE BOWL." It's a lofty goal, but not completely Kanye West at the MTV Video Music Awards-like -- outrageous! That's in large part because the Big Ten is at best the 5th best conference in the country. It's not strong this year. Michigan State and Wisconsin didn't impress last weekend. Iowa looked shaky in its opener. Ohio State lost a lot from last year's team and coach Jim Tressel's play-calling, especially in the USC game, has been questionable. Michigan, off to a nice start, isn't on the Gophers' schedule.
    The Gophers have the most starters back of any team in the Big Ten, and it's one thing to have players with experience returning, but they also have talent. The trio of linebackers is the best since the mid 90's when they had Parc Williams, Sean Hoffman, and Ben Mezera. Brewster and his staff have proven they can recruit talented D-linemen. Brandon Kirksey and Jewhan Edwards can sufficiently relieve Eric Small and Garrett Brown for stretches. The corners are good. QB Adam Weber is one of the most underappreciated athletes in recent Minnesota sports memory. WR Eric Decker is the best at his position in the conference.
    It's now time for that talent and Brewster to win a big game. Illinois last year doesn't count. They couldn't even qualify for a bowl. The Gophers have a 10-game losing streak against ranked opponents and the last time they beat a top-10 team at HOME Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots were in vogue -- 1977 (Michigan). Before that, we have to go way back to the Kennedy administration -- 1961 (Michigan State).
    The No. 8 California Golden Bears are beatable. They've lost four in a row and eight of nine away from Memorial Stadium. The 11 a.m. start time, so 9 a.m. body-clock-wise for Cal., can't be a bad thing.
    Some Keys to victory:
    Cal. has two very good corners who should play on Sundays, but the better one is Syd'Quan Thompson. He isn't moved around a lot, so the goal needs to be getting Decker matched up with Darian Hagan. Even so, Decker did very well last year against NFL first rounders Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio St.) and Vontae Davis (Illinois.)
  • The penalties, many of the dumb variety, have to stop. If the Gophers commit 8 or 10 penalties like they did against Air Force and Syracuse, they won't win.

Blitz often. Simoni Lawrence's 4.41 speed needs to be put to good use. Bringing S Kyle Theret near the line of scrimmage could also be a good idea. QB Kevin Riley can be flustered and RB Jahvid Best is, no pun intended, the best RB in the country. Attempt to slow him down in the backfield before he gets started.
Brewster in May to the Pioneer Press: "Going into your third year now, everything is in place. There's a lot of excitement. There's a lot of buzz out there about us"
Tim, let's see that buzz become a reality Saturday afternoon.