EAST LANSING, MICH. – The Gophers are hoping for their first nine-win season since they went 10-3 in 2003, but to get there today, their offense needs to find a way to solve one of college football’s best defenses.

No. 11 Michigan State leads the nation in total defense (236.6 yards per game), and the Gophers have a streak of six consecutive quarters of scoreless offense. Minnesota scored all 24 of its points against Penn State in the first half, and its only touchdown against Wisconsin came on Aaron Hill’s interception return.

Michigan State (10-1, 7-0 Big Ten) is concerned about no shows today at 75,000-seat Spartan Stadium. Fans know no matter what happens against the Gophers, the Spartans have a date with Ohio State next Saturday in the Big Ten Championship Game.

From Graham Couch’s column in today’s Lansing State Journal:

MSU is bracing for 20,000 or more empty seats Saturday, fearing cold weather, the brand of its opponent and the Thanksgiving holiday will put a severe dent in attendance. The Spartan coaching brass — Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo — are pleading for your consideration, for your respect of the winningest senior class in MSU football history, to your sense of loyalty to the program.

"We need you there," Dantonio said. “If you’re a Spartan, you need to be there. ... If you can make it, come on.”

Added Izzo: “If people don’t want to go because of the weather or this or that, find somebody to give their tickets to. A lot of needy people out there.”

It’s expected to be about 33 degrees for kickoff, and warming into the upper 30’s during the game. That should feel a lot better for the Gophers after playing last week’s game with a 5-degree wind chill.

Update: The Gophers are wearing white jerseys with maroon pants today. The Spartans are wearing green jerseys with white pants.

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