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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Hoosiers not looking past Minnesota

Friday, October 5, 2007


AP Sports Writer

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- For 11 months, the Indiana Hoosiers have replayed those embarrassing images against Minnesota in their minds.

Receivers breaking free, wide-open running lanes and the Gophers scoring touchdown after touchdown. November's 63-26 loss in Minneapolis did more than cost the Hoosiers a bowl trip; it sent them into a three-game tailspin and an offseason of contemplation.

On Saturday, Indiana will have a chance to make amends, using those old memories as their motivation.

"It kind of enrages me a little bit when I think about it," defensive end Jammie Kirlew said. "It gives me more fire to play harder this week."

Yes, Indiana (4-1, 1-1) has something to prove and not just to Minnesota.

After opening with three straight wins against overmatched nonconference opponents, a home loss at Illinois cast doubt on whether this team was good enough to play in the postseason.

Last week's signature win at Iowa rekindled the excitement around campus, and a win Saturday would put Indiana within one victory of becoming bowl eligible.

So Minnesota (1-4, 0-2) provides more than just an inviting target.

"That was kind of embarrassing to me," defensive end Greg Middleton said of last year's game. "They put up 63 points. We have to come out and play better."

In some ways, little has changed since these teams last met.

Indiana comes into the game with momentum and hope, while Minnesota is struggling again. Last year, the Gophers had lost 5-of-6 before playing the Hoosiers; this year, it's 4-of-5.

But in other ways, circumstances are dramatically different.

Tim Brewster has replaced Glen Mason as the Gophers coach, while Bill Lynch succeeded the late Terry Hoeppner at Indiana.

Minnesota has revamped its offense, relying on more a spread attack like the Hoosiers, while Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis has emerged into a dangerous threat with both his feet and arm.

"It's very obvious when you watch the film that he's a lot more calm in the pocket, he doesn't look to run quite as early," Minnesota linebacker Mike Sherels said. "That kind of gives us chances to sit back a little more, and that's when he springs the run on people."

The defenses also look different.

Indiana, which had only 14 sacks in 2006, now leads the nation with 27.

Meanwhile, opponents have been beating up on Minnesota. The Gophers rank last in the league against the pass (368.0 yards per game), last in the league against the run (158.4) and have yielded 36.8 points. Only one BCS conference school has allowed a higher average -- not good when you're facing an offense that is averaging 37.0 points.

Still, Brewster believes the Gophers can turn it around with redshirt freshman quarterback Adam Weber in a location, Bloomington, that has traditionally been problematic for Minnesota.

The Gophers are just 1-8 at Indiana since 1988.

"Going on the road and winning in the Big Ten is not easy, particularly when you're playing an opponent that feels very good about itself right now, as Indiana does, and as they should," Brewster said. "It's a tremendous challenge. To me, that's exactly what you want."

The Hoosiers are taking this week's challenge more personally. Amid the growing interest, Indiana must find a way to shut out the distractions and concentrate on football.

As they learned last year.

"I think you always fall back in conference play on what happened the last couple of years," Lynch said. "But last year's game against Iowa had nothing to do with Saturday's other than the kids have a better idea of who they're playing against."

But these players haven't forgotten what happened last year -- it's all their on the game tape -- and intend to turn the tables on Minnesota this weekend.

"We definitely have something about that in the back of our minds," Kirlew said. "We're not going to let that happen again."

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