Up and down Gophers try to quit rollercoaster ride

by Sarah Mitchell

Seat belts should have been required for Minnesota’s (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) 2000 football season.
Following a disappointing 2-2 start to the season — including an unpredictable loss to Ohio — the Gophers redeemed themselves by winning three straight Big Ten games. Minnesota disposed of Illinois and Penn State before upsetting then sixth-ranked Ohio State two weekends ago.
Despite all the confidence gained in the defeat of the Buckeyes, the Gophers upward climb halted there.
Over the weekend, then No. 22 Minnesota traveled to unranked Indiana and was defeated, 51-43.
Gophers coach Glen Mason said the inconsistency of play bothers him most.
“The roller coaster for me that is difficult isn’t the winning and losing,” Mason said. “It’s not. It’s playing well, and then not playing well. That really bothers me.”
In an up-and-down season, the Gophers have three games (Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa) remaining on the schedule.
BCS standings
Two Big Ten teams are ranked among the nation’s top 15 in the first Bowl Championship Series standings of the 2000 season. Ohio State (6-1, 3-1) is ranked at No. 11 while Purdue (6-2, 4-1) sits in the 15th spot.
The BCS ranks the nation’s top teams. At the end of the year, the teams occupying the top two spots will square off in the national championship game.
“Whether or not we are good enough to play for the national championship remains to be seen,” Buckeyes coach John Cooper said. “I think there’s a lot of football left to be played. Certainly a lot of it depends on those teams ranked ahead of us.”
It is unlikely a Big Ten team will jump into first or second in the standings. If that’s the case, the conference champion will go to the Rose Bowl.
If the Boilermakers win out, they will go to Pasadena. Purdue plays Ohio on State Saturday.
Big Ten goes bowling
Three Big Ten teams became Bowl eligible over the weekend. Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue all reached the six-win mark.
One more team will join the ranks this weekend. The victor of the Northwestern versus Minnesota game on Saturday becomes bowl eligible.
“We come into this week with our hands full,” Wildcats coach Randy Walker said. “Minnesota is a great team.”
“Both of us have a lot on the line.”
Players of the Week
Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El was awarded offensive player of the week honors for his record-setting performance in the Hoosiers 51-43 defeat of Minnesota.
Randle El broke his own school record with 473 yards of total offense. The junior rushed for 210 yards and passed for 263 more, becoming the fifth Division IA player to rush for 200 yards and pass for 200 yards in the same game.
“We realized when he was our scout team quarterback that this guy was something special,” Hoosiers coach Cam Cameron said.
But even Cameron admits, Randle El is not perfect.
“I still think even going back to last week’s game, we had probably four, maybe five, really simple plays that he missed and as a result we wound up having to punt the football,” Cameron said. “So, I think we still, as well as he seems to play at times, we still are working on some little things to keep improving. But he’s been pretty good since the day he got here.”
Michigan linebacker Larry Foote was selected as defensive player of the week. The junior collected a career-high 14 tackles (8 solo) in the Wolverines 14-0 defeat of Michigan State.
Boilermakers defensive end Craig Terrill and cornerback Ashante Woodyard shared special teams honors. The two teamed up for Purdue’s overtime, game-winning play at Wisconsin. Terrill blocked a 58-yard field goal attempt by Badgers kicker Vitaly Pisetsky and Woodyard returned it for a 36-yard touchdown to give Purdue a 30-24 win.

Sarah Mitchell covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]