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: