Big Ten lunchtime links: Defense drives Gophers' renaissance
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Your Monday midday reading begins with the giddiness in Gopher country, as Minnesota has closed the book on its disastrous 2007 with inspired defensive play.
Head coach Tim Brewster and Joel Maturi missed on their post-game high-five attempt at Illinois, but the Gophers are hitting their mark just about everywhere else, Jim Souhan writes in the Star Tribune.
Maturi attempted a high-five. They missed, hugged and ran off celebrating the biggest victory of Brewster's tenure. Minutes later, Brewster grabbed a lectern and hollered, "We've got kind of a philosophy: 'Why not us? Why not now?' "
In previous years, the answer was obvious: Because your defense stinks. ...
The defense earned what Brewster called a "program-changing'' victory, creating three vital turnovers, keeping dynamic Illini quarterback Juice Williams from winning the game with his legs, and stopping Illinois on a fourth-and-goal from the 1.
Big plays win football games, and the Minnesota defense produced the biggest plays of the game.
Other must-reads include:
- It's not much fun to be a Big Ten fan in the state of Indiana right now, but the calls for Hoosiers coach Bill Lynch to be fired are premature, Bob Kravitz writes in The Indianapolis Star.
- Illinois plans to reassess its special teams, including Arrelious Benn's role as a return man, after several mistakes against Minnesota, Terry Bannon writes in the Chicago Tribune.
- Wisconsin needs a spark on offense, and it's time to see if quarterback Dustin Sherer can provide one, Mike Lucas writes in The Capital Times.
- Michigan State brought back the 'Bandit' position to its defense, and Otis Wiley capitalized against Northwestern, Andrew Mouranie writes in the Lansing State Journal.
- Can Ohio State's offensive woes be blamed on the line or the freshman quarterback? Beat writers Tim May and Ken Gordon debate in The Columbus Dispatch.