NCAA Football

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Gophers have to make a decision about where the season is going now – InForum

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Gophers have to make a decision about where the season is going now – InForum

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The University of Minnesota Gophers football team considers itself a spiritual group.

As one of the four tenants on which head coach PJ Fleck’s program is built (academic, athletic, social and spiritual), that doesn’t mean a standout group at Minnesota’s largest public university is coll· lectively religious. The concept is to cultivate a belief in something bigger than yourself.

After Saturday’s 45-17 loss against now-No. 13 Penn State in the White Out game in Happy Valley, their faith is being tested. They could, for example, need a come-to-Jesus moment after a divine 4-0 September turned into, so far, 0-3 October. It might feel like hell.

After the announced crowd of 109,813 finally left them alone, Fleck tried to look ahead with his team inside the visitors’ locker room at Beaver Stadium on Saturday night. He pointed to the next five remaining regular season games.

“We’ve raised expectations around here,” Fleck reminded reporters. “I think that’s why everyone has a really bad taste in their mouths. We expect to win every game, period.”

Fleck also looked back. Noting that they were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 after pacing previously ranked Michigan State to close last month. But this seems like BC

When the Gophers lost to Purdue 20-10 on Oct. 1 and 25-14 to No. 17 Illinois on Oct. 15, they came up short in close games, with run breaks at crucial times.

Against Penn State, thin margins turned into huge gaps, especially defensively, with breakdown after breakdown leading to big play after big play. The Nittany Lions had six touchdowns of 16+ yards.

“We’ll have to make a decision as a defense and as a team about what we’re going to do going forward,” linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin said. “I know the guys in the room. There are some veterans on the team that have been through some tough times and there are young guys that maybe this is the first adversity they’ve faced. We’ve got to come together.”

When teams fall apart, it can start with the defense blaming the offense for the turnovers. Or vice versa. People are starting to take care of themselves.

“If you’re sitting out there saying, ‘I’m going to get better so this defense can get better,’ no,” Sori-Marin said. “We have to improve the guy next to us. We have to get better as a team, coming together collectively and just doing it for the guy next to you. That’s really what it’s going to come down to.”

Defensive lineman Jalen Logan-Redding said belief in something bigger than yourself starts with awareness.

“Making sure we tap into each other’s energy,” Logan-Redding said. “Being with others and understanding that we’ve been through a lot together. … We do things for each other, we do it for the people we love. We sacrifice a lot for this game and for each other, so that we can be the best that we can be.”

After the Illinois loss, Fleck didn’t show the entire team his usual set of film clips to convey some perspective; it was the first time this season that he aired this routine. He didn’t feel the players needed a “therapy session.”

With Fleck up in arms over his self-described “bad” way he prepared the team last week, he needed to find a new tactic.

If they find their way again, it’s not unlikely that the Gophers could follow that three-game losing streak with a three-game winning streak. Minnesota hosts Rutgers (4-3, 1-3) on Saturday, with Minnesota a 12-point favorite. Minnesota travels to Nebraska (3-4, 2-2) on Nov. 5 and welcomes Northwestern (1-6, 1-3) on Nov. 12.


This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to bring a broader range of news to our readers. learn Learn more about the news services the FCC uses here.

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