- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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The teams will be separated by more than 300 miles, but Minnesota and Indiana will seek the same thing Saturday when they take the field.
"We have to go in and earn respect back," Minnesota senior linebacker Simoni Lawrence said.
The Gophers lost some when they were pummeled 55-0 by Iowa last year in the Metrodome. It marked Minnesota's worst Big Ten loss in team history and the second worst loss overall (the Gophers fell 84-13 to Nebraska in 1983). Minnesota had been drubbed by Iowa before -- it lost 45-3 in 1995, 33-0 in 1959 and 41-7 in 1921 -- but nothing quite like last year's beating.
Indiana knows the feeling. The Hoosiers fell 62-10 to Purdue last fall to end a miserable 3-9 campaign. The 52-point margin of victory marked the largest in the Old Oaken Bucket series since 1893, when Purdue won 64-0. Purdue scored on its first 10 offensive possessions (eight touchdowns, two field goals) before trying to run out the clock on its 11th drive.
Both the Gophers and the Hoosiers will have little trouble getting motivated on Saturday. Minnesota kicks things off at No. 13 Iowa (ESPN, noon ET), while Indiana hosts Purdue (Big Ten Network, 3:30 p.m. ET) later in the day.
"It's not one of those things that we have to dwell on the final score," Indiana head coach Bill Lynch said. "Any of us that were there know how that game went. They got after us, and it's certainly in the back of the minds of our guys."
Lynch's Minnesota colleague, Tim Brewster, also has no need to conduct a history class this week in Minneapolis.
"We know exactly what happened last year," Brewster said. "Obviously, Iowa was much better than us the day we played them. They played an outstanding game, and we did not play well. But that was last year. This is a whole new year. It's a totally different team."
Indiana has, at times, looked like a totally different team this fall, though its record could be similar. The Hoosiers have led in all four of their Big Ten road games, only to lose, and gave Wisconsin all it could handle two weeks ago in Bloomington.
A bowl berth is off the table, so Indiana's mission seems pretty clear: avenge last year's loss to Purdue and create some positive momentum for 2010.
"It'd be huge," Lynch said. "It's important for your seniors leaving on a positive note, and it certainly leads you into the offseason and the future. And when it's a rivalry game against Purdue, it means a great deal. It is a different game than the others."
Lawrence will sometimes pose a question to Minnesota fans he meets: If you could beat either Wisconsin or Iowa, the program's top two rivals, who would it be?
"Everybody always says Iowa," he said. "I'm going to try and get everybody as geeked up as possible for this game. This is my last chance to get a trophy since I’ve been here with coach [Tim] Brewster."
Brewster has yet to win a rivalry trophy at Minnesota, a fact trumpeted by his critics. It won't be easy to end the drought Saturday, as Iowa can inch closer to an at-large BCS bowl berth with its 10th victory.
Minnesota hasn't won at Kinnick Stadium since 1999, Kirk Ferentz's first season as Hawkeyes head coach.
"They're a big favorite in the game, and rightfully so," Brewster said.
Lawrence has watched Iowa play more than any other Big Ten team this year. In addition to scouting the offense of Minnesota's upcoming opponent, he watches the Hawkeyes defense and admires its mindset and aggressive style.
But this week, Lawrence is no fan of Iowa's.
"We’ve got to go in there angry," he said. "That’s the only thing you can do. When a team beats you up like that, they'll be like, 'Aw, yeah, they’re just another team coming in.’ You’ve got to go in and earn some respect back."
9hDavid M. Hale