Minnesota’s football team comes to Memorial Stadium on Saturday, November 13, 2010 trying to snap a nine game losing streak. The Golden Gophers started off the season strong, defeating Middle Tennessee by seven points on the road. Week 2, however, marked the beginning of a downward spiral with a tough loss at home against South Dakota. Minnesota tried to get back on track at home in weeks three and four but were ultimately unsuccessful against #18 Southern California and Northern Illinois — both 10+ point losses. Beginning Big Ten play 0–3 the Minnesota Athletic Department had seen enough, firing head coach Tim Brewster and replacing him with offensive coordinator Jeff Horton. Fortunately for the Illini, since taking over as head coach Horton has been unable to stop the bleeding.
The Minnesota offense tried early in the season to establish a running game to no avail; the team currently averages 127 yards per game. The offensive rushing game is led by RB’s #23 DeLeon Eskridge and # 22 Duane Bennett who each have an average of 4YPC. The Golden Gopher offense has had to rely on the arm of QB #8 Adam Weber who became just the fourth QB in Big Ten history to pass for more than 10,000 yards in his career. Adam Weber has three primary targets to spread the ball to: WR #6 DaJon McKnight, #5 MarQueis Gray converted QB, and TE #85 Eric Lair (who combine for 232 aerial yards per game). The Minnesota defense is allowing 200 yards on the ground and 207 passing yards per game, and considering the nine game losing streak, 400 yards of total offense is not that bad. The Gopher defense is led by LB #51 Gary Tinsley, DB # 27 Kyle Theret, and CB #2 Ryan Callado. Minnesota offensive and defensive lines have been depleted with injuries; several underclassmen are being pressed into service. Watch for the Gophers KO return team who are led by #11 Troy Stoudermire and # 2 Ryan Callado both averaging 25+ YPR.
The University of Illinois football team is glad to be home, coming up two points short in a record setting Big Ten football performance last week at Michigan. What can anyone say but, Strap it up and Go Get Bowl Eligible! Wouldn’t it be nice if last week’s Illini offense and the Illini defense from games against Penn State, Indiana, or Purdue all showed up Saturday against Minnesota? Illini fans need to see what the Illinois football team is capable of; they need to feel confident that the Illinois football team could travel to Chicago’s Wrigley Field and Fresno, California without worrying about the outcome.
The Illini KO return team is in good hands with the addition of #28 Troy Pollard and # 15 Darius Millines; return averages have increased to 25+ yards a return helping the offense’s starting position. Congratulations to Mikel Leshoure and Nathan Scheelhaase for Big Ten recognition this past week.
Memorial Stadium Celebrates Senior Day
Saturday’s game will mark the final home game for 13 Illini seniors. #97 Clay Nurse, #87 Anthony Santella, #18 Nate Bussey, #10 Eddie McGee, #31 Travon Bellamy, #11 Jarred Fayson, #42 Aaron Gress, #27 Antonio Gully, #66 Randall Hunt, #6 Chris James, #55 Anterio Jackson, #53 Dustin Jefferson, #78 Ryan Palmer will all be recognized prior to the game.
How Minnesota Became the Gophers, Then Golden, and Goldie
Minnesota was tabbed the “Gopher State” in 1857 after a satirizing cartoon, depicting nine Gophers with the heads of local politicians pulling a locomotive, was published. The story was over legislative action for a $5 million railroad proposal in western Minnesota. Later, in the 1920s the University adopted the nickname.
The “Golden” adjective has not always been a part of the Gopher nickname. During the 1930s, the Gophers wore gold jerseys and pants. Legendary KSTP radio announcer Halsey Hall coined the term “Golden Gophers” in reference to the team’s all-gold attire on the field. From 1932 through 1941, Minnesota compiled an impressive record, losing only 12 games and winning seven Big Ten titles and five national championships — a true “golden” decade of Gopher football.
“Goldy” the Golden Gopher is the mascot for University of Minnesota, one of the most energetic and consistently ranks among the best college mascots, winning the 2007 Capital One All American Mascot Team. During the year “Goldy” makes over 1000 appearances and is at all home games for the University of Minnesota.