Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The two teams couldn't have been farther apart a year ago, as Kansas was headed to the Orange Bowl while Minnesota completed arguably the worst season in team history at 1-11. Now they meet at Sun Devil Stadium with a chance to finish strong.
Minnesota improved its record by six wins from 2007, but four consecutive losses to close the season tapered optimism in the Twin Cities. Head coach Tim Brewster trumpets his team's one-year improvement but acknowledges some obvious deficiencies along the offensive line.
Quarterback Adam Weber and the Gophers' offense will need to show up against a Kansas team that averages 32.7 points per game. The passing connection between Weber and star wideout Eric Decker fueled Minnesota's early season success, and Kansas, like most Big 12 teams, is susceptible to the pass.
Kansas' passing attack provides arguably the biggest challenge Minnesota has faced all season with quarterback Todd Reesing and wide receivers Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe. Led by All-Big Ten cornerback Traye Simmons, Minnesota's defense racked up a Big Ten-leading 30 turnovers this season and will need to force Jayhawks mistakes to hang around in this one.
Minnesota makes its second trip to the Insight in three seasons. In 2006, the Gophers blew a 28-point halftime lead in what turned out to be Glen Mason's final game as head coach.