Mason downplays revenge factor vs. Wolverines

by Dan Miller

Minnesota football coach Glen Mason said his team isn’t going into Michigan Stadium afraid and definitely not angry.

It would be only natural to have sore feelings after Michigan’s 21-point fourth quarter come-from-behind win over the Gophers last season at the Metrodome.

But after fielding questions about revenge, Mason made light of the situation.

“I can’t worry about revenge. I have to worry about making an extra point,” he said, alluding to the five blocked kicks the Gophers’ field goal unit has had in the last two weeks.

Mason said he didn’t have to remind his players of last year’s Metrodome loss to Michigan and that he couldn’t do anything more to focus his team.

He also dismissed the question that he would do something to get his players riled up.

“We’re not going to watch the film of last year any more than usual,” he said.

Mason has given each player a poker chip to remind them that they need to play with “a chip on their shoulder.”

But that trend began before the 13th-ranked Gophers game against Penn State on Saturday.

Still, he said the sheer magnitude of the game against the 14th-ranked Wolverines should be enough to get his players motivated.

“I like to watch kids compete in those situations,” Mason said. “That’s what’s fun.”

High praise for backs

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said Marion Barber III and

Laurence Maroney might be the best running backs he’s seen in 25 years in the Big Ten conference.

“They are the best pair of running backs on one team I have seen,” Carr said.

With Michigan leading the Big Ten in run defense, Carr said he expects a big test against Minnesota’s running game.

“We were very good statistically going into Minneapolis last year, and we certainly did not equate ourselves very well in that game,” he said.

Minnesota had 424 yards rushing against Michigan last year when the Wolverines beat the Gophers 38-35. The yardage was more than any opponent had ever accumulated on the ground in Michigan’s 125-year history.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno also had praise for Barber III and Maroney.

“Those two backs are as good of a one-two that you are going to find anywhere,” Paterno said.

The Lions were able to limit Minnesota’s running game to 288 yards – the second-lowest Gophers total this season.

Paterno said the Lions’ limited success had to do with defensive linemen being able to get through blocks and to the running backs early.

Big games Saturday

After the top five Big Ten teams all played unranked opponents last week, things are starting to heat up.

All three remaining undefeated teams – Minnesota, Wisconsin and Purdue – will play on the road this week.

The Gophers travel to Ann Arbor, Mich.; No. 15 Wisconsin travels to No. 18 Ohio State and No. 9 Purdue will face Penn State on the road.

Lewis out for season

Iowa announced Tuesday that senior running back Jermelle Lewis will miss the rest of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

“Losing Jermelle is extremely disappointing for all us,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said in a statement. “He’s worked awfully hard to get back from previous injuries, and it’s hard to see him suffer this setback.”

Lewis is Iowa’s leading rusher with 200 yards and a touchdown this year.