Minnesota hoping Bowl win could erase some bad memories

Gophers vs Purdue

Gophers win make it 7-1 season

Matt Mead

Gophers vs Purdue Gophers win make it 7-1 season

To Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber , a bowl game is a fresh start. A time to erase the memory of, say, a 55-0 loss to Iowa in the season finale or a string of four straight losses to end the regular season. âÄúItâÄôs like your own separate season,âÄù the sophomore said Sunday after it was announced that the Gophers would play Kansas on Dec. 31 in the Insight Bowl. âÄúEverythingâÄôs fresh, everythingâÄôs kind of new again.âÄù Everything but the destination. The Gophers will spend New YearâÄôs Eve in Tempe, Ariz., for the second time in three years. MinnesotaâÄôs 2006 trip to Arizona was a record-setting one, but in a way the Gophers would rather forget. The Gophers mounted a 38-7 third quarter lead on Texas Tech before the Red Raiders stormed back with 31 unanswered points and a touchdown in overtime to complete the biggest comeback in bowl history. So thereâÄôs that memory to erase, too. But against the Jayhawks, it wonâÄôt be easy. Though Kansas is making back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time in school history, it emerged last season with a 12-1 record and a 24-21 victory in the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech. They went 7-5 this year, but the Jayhawks finished the regular season with a 40-37 upset of then-No. 12 Missouri. âÄúTheyâÄôve turned their program around in the past couple years,âÄù Weber said. âÄúGreat quarterback, great team that can put up a lot of numbers.âÄù Quarterback Todd Reesing ranks eighth nationally in passing yards and heads an offense that averages 32.7 points and 431.2 yards per game. Despite the different ways each team finished the season, however, Weber believes the time the Gophers have to prepare for Kansas and get back to health will act as an equalizer. Wide receiver Eric Decker agrees. âÄúItâÄôs nice to take a couple weeks off, get the body feeling good, get in the weight room, get stronger, and feel like we did in August,âÄù the junior, who was nursing an ankle sprain late in the season, said. It will be Tim BrewsterâÄôs first bowl game as head coach at Minnesota, and heâÄôll be trying to immediately show that heâÄôs a fitting replacement for Glen Mason, who was fired in the wake of the GophersâÄô 2006 Insight Bowl meltdown. MinnesotaâÄôs seniors will be trying to win their first bowl as well. Though this will be their third postseason appearance, they have yet to record a December victory. Senior defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg said he had fond memories of the Insight Bowl despite the loss, and expects to experience the gamut of emotions when he plays his last game with the Gophers. âÄúItâÄôs going to be an emotional game for [the seniors], because some of us might never play football again,âÄù VanDeSteeg said. âÄú[IâÄôll] remember walking off that field.âÄù