The Gophers have a major task at hand ... and we're not even talking about having to play host to resurgent Michigan State this Saturday.
Job No. 1 will be to rebuild the psyche of a team that has to overcome the shock and disappointment of losing a game in which it took a 21-point lead into the fourth quarter at home against a team it desperately wanted to beat.
Michigan came back to win 38-35.
According to head coach Glen Mason, the Gophers will not have a problem with its frame of mind.
"We'll be fine," Mason told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "We lost the game, but we played good. Who beat us? We beat ourselves. We were playing the team that people were picking to win the national championship. We've got a lot of young kids out there. Sometimes you forget that. I'm not going to forget that."
He's saying the right things, but it will take a full 60 minutes of solid play for the memory of the collapse to go away.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Gophers ran the ball exceptionally well against Michigan. They pounded out 424 yards and Marion Barber looked sensational with 197 yards and a touchdown. Laurence Maroney added 81 yards and scored twice. Asad Abdul-Khaliq was very good against Michigan, but he made a terrible mistake when he threw a fourth-quarter interception that was returned for a 34-yard TD by Jacob Stewart.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Minnesota defense was very physical against Michigan for three quarters and nearly shut down RB Chris Perry. However, when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter, the Gophers fell apart. The knock on Minnesota in recent years is that it has been big enough or physical enough to stand up to the better teams in the Big Ten ... so this continues to be an issue.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's always a letdown whenever you lose a close game. But everyone understands that we're still 6-1. We're not too pessimistic about it. We're going to continue our quest for a Big Ten title." — S Eli Ward on the Gophers' need to bounce back following their loss to Michigan.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Michigan State at Minnesota, Oct. 18 — Can the Gophers bounce back after a nightmarish fourth quarter against Michigan? If they can, they have a chance to get back on the winning track. If not, they have a chance to get blown out by the Spartans.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Asad Abdul-Khaliq — After he threw an interception that was returned for a score by Michigan, Abdul-Khaliq showed that he was not about to fold by scoring on a 52-yard TD run. However, he could not lead the Gophers down the field in the last minute when they needed to put a field goal on the board to send the game into overtime.
WR Jared Ellerson — After two long TD receptions vs. Northwestern, Ellerson was held to two catches for 23 yards vs. Michigan. He needs to rebound with a big game.
INJURY IMPACT: No new injuries were reported following the loss to Michigan.
It's finally here, Michigan vs. Minnesota. It is the Gophers' chance to prove they belong with the…