So with another glorified practice out of the way, it’s time too ahead to the next matchup in the all important Big Ten season. A win against the Gophers gives this Lions squad some credibility and some positive momentum going into the Big House. Last week the Gophers beat up on Purdue after losing a close game against the surprisingly improved Wisconsin squad. Even though Minnesota is ranked last in total offense in the Big Ten and Penn State is ranked first in total defense this game won’t be as simple and looking at the numbers and rolling your 12 sided die.
All hail the BCS Selection Committee
All of that aside, what do the Lions need to do to come out with the W this week? True to form there are three keys to the game.
See the guy with the ball? Knock him over: This sounds like football 101, but Adam Weber depends heavily on his wideout Eric Decker, and considering Decker is one of the top 3 wideouts in the league you can’t really blame him. That being said, if you shut down the passing game and take Decker out of the equation you’re helping yourself out a whole lot. The Gophers dont really have a notable running game. Take Penn States running game and subtract 250 yards and divide by 2. Thats how many yards each back has for Minnesota. So yea, for all the times you’ve wondered where the Lions running game went, remember the Gophers running game was never there. So it boils down to this, get to the quarterback and play smart and the game is in the bag. It’s simple but this could be a game that the Lions win easily or a game they struggle in when they don’t really need to.
Get that ball to the Endzone- Wagner took great steps towards keeping the aspirin away from the Lion faithful by kicking off well into the endzone a few times last week. If you can win the field position battle without taking a snap you’re helping yourself out a whole bunch. His ability to continue his success from last week will be a key factor in the Big Ten games to come.
Do this….with your foot
Do your homework and play smart: You’ve got to play with your head. So many time teams end up beating themselves with penalties and a lack of concentration. “Don’t make it harder than it needs to be” should be the mindset of the Lions this week. They’re a better team on paper and even though I’ve advised that you stay away from die spinning, it is not unreasonable to expect the Lions to outplay the Gophers. They have more talent on both sides of the ball, they just need to execute. I guess this isn’t a specific key to the game, but more like: Come to the game with the right mindset.
Other games around the Big Ten:
Upset Watch: Iowa @ Wisconsin
The Badgers have quietly put together a solid season and are looking for their big win. Iowa is a solid team as we’ve all seen, but they have gotten lucky a few times. It’ll be a big matchup between one of the Big Tens best running team and one of the Big Tens best defenses. Somebody needs to beat the Hawkeyes if the Lions want a chance to win the Big Ten so go Badgers.
Ohio State plays Purdue in a game that should be an easy W for the Buckeyes. As hard as it is you dont want them to lose until they make the trip up to Happy Valley for the sake of the Lion’s resume. It isn’t fun to root for the Buckeyes, but at this point you have to figure out what is best for you in the long run.
So our friends over at Against The Spread have taken exception to the lack of reporting in this post in regards to the weather. So hey, incase you haven’t heard or noticed it’s snowing here in Happy Valley ; ) As far as the game is concerned, the Gophers have the leagues worst offensive line, giving up more sacks than any other team in the Big Ten. The Lions on the other hand have the leagues the best statistical defensive line and lead the Big Ten in sacks. With crappy footing and rain and snow in the forecast, that can only help the Lions. Take a unit that has struggled to produce at times, put their weakness up against the Lion’s strength, and add weather that limits the use of their most productive unit… things are looking ironically sunny for the Lion faithful.