Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big Ten [Print without images]

Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Insight Bowl preview

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The Big Ten is 0-2 in bowl games so far, and things don't get much easier for the much-maligned conference. Here's a snapshot of the Big Ten's third bowl matchup as Minnesota (7-5) takes on Kansas (7-5) today in Tempe, Ariz. (6 p.m., NFL Network).

WHO TO WATCH: Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber and wide receiver Eric Decker formed one of the nation's top passing connections for the first two-thirds of the season. But Decker wasn't the same after an ankle injury Nov. 1, and he comes off left knee surgery earlier this month. If the talented and tough junior returns to full strength, he should rack up big numbers against the nation's 113th-ranked pass defense.

WHAT TO WATCH: The makeover of Minnesota's offensive line under Tim Davis will be a fascinating subplot in this game. Hired three days after the regular-season finale, Davis has given the Gophers a new identity rooted in the power run game. So much change in so little time could lead to growing pains, but Minnesota's tradition-rich run game was nonexistent this fall and needed a jumpstart.

WHY TO WATCH: Despite a collapse down the stretch, Minnesota is one of the better stories in college football this season, rebounding from a 1-11 clunker in 2007. The Gophers are sizable underdogs, but their new-look defense generates turnovers (30 takeaways) and could force some mistakes from Todd Reesing and crew. The real intrigue rests with Minnesota's offense. It's rare when a team makes major changes during bowl preparation, and Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster hopes his players catch on fast.