Another week of self-doubt surfaces for Gophers after drubbing by Badgers

Minnesota has lost four of its last five, ending any hopes of a Rose Bowl berth.

Dan Miller

It showed on the face of every Minnesota football player who was dragged into Wisconsin’s media room Saturday after a humiliating 38-14 loss:

Another week of soul-searching was ahead, and the Gophers were dreading it.

“You try to find answers, but you just don’t know,” Gophers quarterback Bryan Cupito said after he came into the room.

After five weeks of similar comments from players and coaches, the Gophers have now run out of time to salvage a disappointing season.

At this point, no win – even a thrashing of Iowa on Saturday at the Metrodome – will stop the slide that has brought a 5-0 Gophers team to 6-4 and 3-4 in the Big Ten. Since a 27-24 loss to Michigan on Oct. 9, Minnesota has lost four of five games and now can’t finish at more than .500 in the Big Ten.

“I wish we could turn back the clock (to the Michigan game). I wish we could take those games back,” senior tackle and captain Rian Melander said.

But despite the wishful “What if?” thinking, there is no doubt the Gophers are swallowing a hefty dose of reality, and some finger-pointing has begun even inside the program.

After the Gophers were dismantled Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., defensive end and team captain Darrell Reid made some comments questioning the coaching he received.

This was especially serious to a Minnesota program in which coach Glen Mason always preaches the importance of a team-first attitude and not doing anything to hurt that structure.

After a preseason during which the words “Rose Bowl” were on the lips of almost every Gophers player, weren’t Reid’s comments bound to come up after four losses in five weeks?

Problems inside the program are still brewing.

“There’s a problem there,” Mason said. “It might be a mental problem. But those are hard things to point out.”

It will be even harder to point out what happens next for Minnesota. The Gophers now have to rely on a lot of help to avoid a trip to Detroit for the Motor City Bowl and will fight not to finish 3-5 in conference play – two games worse than Minnesota’s Big Ten record last year.

“We went into the game with nothing to lose,” defensive tackle Mark Losli said Saturday.

Now the Gophers have to find something to play for. It won’t be easy.