Record: 1-5 (0-2 Big Ten)
Tim Brewster and his players entered the fall determined to raise the bar and disprove those murky preseason projections of 2-10. Unfortunately for the Gophers, their critics are looking a lot better than they are. After an encouraging come-from-behind road win at Middle Tennessee to kick things off, Minnesota has dropped five consecutive games, including four on its home field.
The cracks began to form in a Week 2 loss to FCS South Dakota, which shredded Minnesota's new-look defense for 41 points and 444 yards at TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota has shown flashes of promise, taking second-half leads against both USC and Northwestern, but the Gophers still struggle to finish games, much like they struggle to finish seasons under Brewster. Unless the latter trend turns around, this thing could get really ugly for Minnesota and its fourth-year coach.
The Gophers' power-run, ball-control offense has had some success with running back Duane Bennett, and senior quarterback Adam Weber has performed better (12 TDs, 4 INTs) through the first half than he did in 2009.
Minnesota's major issues rest with a defense that allows a league-most 32.3 points a game and 196.3 rush yards a game. The Gophers have had to replace 10 starters on defense, but given Brewster's recruiting skills, fans expected better than this. Brewster remains positive and refuses to let his players quit, but his challenge will get tougher without a win this week against Purdue.
Offensive MVP, QB Adam Weber: The senior has his critics, but he hasn't been the problem this season. Weber ranks third in the Big Ten in passing yards with 1,448 and has tossed 12 touchdown passes -- tied for second in the league -- and four interceptions. The senior threw only 13 touchdowns all of last season, so he's well ahead of that pace. Bennett and wide receiver MarQueis Gray (26 receptions, 349 receiving yards, 4 TDs) merit mentions.
Defensive MVP, LB Gary Tinsley: Not many obvious choices here, but Tinsley has emerged as the leader of the linebackers in Mike Rallis' absence. He has recorded a team-high 46 tackles, including six for loss, and had a career-high 14 stops in Saturday's loss to Wisconsin. Safety Kyle Theret also has been a presence since returning from suspension in Week 3, recording 35 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble.