For the Gophers football team, Oct. 1, 2011, is a day that will live in infamy.
OK, not really, but on that day, Michigan handed Minnesota one of its most vicious beatdowns in program history.
The Wolverines beat the Gophers 58-0, and that’s not a misprint.
“Everybody who went to Michigan last year knows how we felt coming back,” Minnesota safety Brock Vereen said. “That’s how we want to make them feel.”
The Gophers will look to avenge last year’s loss Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
Minnesota cornerback Troy Stoudermire called last year’s loss “embarrassing to our program and to our state.”
The Wolverines led 38-0 at halftime, outgained the Gophers 580-177 and held Minnesota to eight first downs.
The good news for the Gophers is they’re a little better this year and Michigan is a little worse. Minnesota, at 5-3, is just one game away from its preseason goal of becoming eligible for a bowl game. The Gophers hammered Purdue 44-28 last Saturday, and that score doesn’t reflect how much Minnesota dominated.
The Wolverines lost to Nebraska 23-9 last week — their third loss of the season and one more than they had in all of 2011.
That being said, Michigan is still a 12.5-point favorite. The Gophers haven’t beaten the Wolverines in Minneapolis since 1977, and Minnesota will probably have to contend with quarterback Denard Robinson — something Nebraska didn’t have to do in its win.
The Cornhuskers knocked Robinson out of the game late in the first half with an elbow injury and coasted in the second half to an easy victory.
All signs indicate that Robinson will play this week. If the Gophers are to win, they’ll have to contain the speedy Robinson, which they didn’t do last year.
Robinson has 946 rushing yards this season — third in the Big Ten — and is averaging a career-high 7.2 yards per carry.
“There’s nobody like [Robinson]. … He’s electrifying in college football,” Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill said.
“He’s worth going to see. If you haven’t seen him play, the public hasn’t seen him play, he’s worth going to the stadium to see.”
Kill talked about the difficulty in preparing for Robinson and said it’s something every team in the country struggles with.
Robinson spearheads Michigan’s rushing offense, and the Gophers have struggled to stop the run all season.
Minnesota allows an average of 178 yards a game on the ground, third-worst in the conference.
“When you look back at film of the games that we have struggled against the run, we’re in the right place to make plays,” Vereen said. “We just haven’t been making them.”
Robinson’s speed poses a new challenge, but Vereen said the Gophers have faced other run-first quarterbacks and will know what to expect from playing Michigan last year.
Scoring against the Wolverines’ top-ranked pass defense won’t be easy either. Michigan allows only 145.1 passing yards a game — a big challenge for true freshman quarterback Philip Nelson in his third-career start.
“They don’t want to give up any deep balls or anything,” said Nelson, who threw three deep-ball touchdowns last weekend against Purdue.
Nelson watched Michigan trounce the Gophers last year, and though he wasn’t on the squad, he said he’s motivated by the loss.
“We talk about how last year, there were two embarrassing games,” Nelson said. “That was Purdue and Michigan. We made one of them right. We’re ready to go make another one right.”
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