Multiple classes shine on Senior Day

The Gophers also fought multiple injuries in pulling out the win.

Marco LaNave

For the first time under head coach Tim Brewster, the Gophers won on Senior Day, and it took efforts from both seniors and underclassmen. On defense, where the Gophers will have the most departures after the season, seniors were part of three turnovers, and two freshmen combined for the GophersâÄô only touchdown. Senior cornerback Traye Simmons and senior linebacker Simoni Lawrence each had a first-quarter interception, and senior defensive end Cedric McKinley recovered the fumble that led to the game-winning field goal. In the second quarter, true freshman cornerback Michael Carter forced a fumble on a sack and redshirt freshman defensive end D.L. Wilhite grabbed the ball and ran 3 yards to the end zone. âÄú[The younger players] just wanted to put it all out there, do our best for the seniors,âÄù Wilhite said. âÄúWe work hard every day in practice, so itâÄôs only fitting that we can make some plays.âÄù Carter started in place of senior Marcus Sherels , who did not play Saturday. âÄúHeâÄôs had a tough year, and his ankle has bothered him all year, and it is unfortunate,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúHeâÄôs a really good player who hasnâÄôt been able to play to his ability pretty much all year.âÄù Carter and junior cornerback Ryan Collado, who played in the second half after Simmons was injured, combined for three of the GophersâÄô six pass breakups, including a pair on the final two plays of South Dakota StateâÄôs drive into Minnesota territory in the last two minutes of the game. Senior linebacker Lee Campbell and junior safety Kim Royston tied for the team lead with six tackles a piece. On the offensive side, senior tight end Nate Tow-Arnett led the Gophers with four receptions for 39 yards. Senior punter Blake Haudan made eight punts, including five that went inside the SDSU 20-yard line. Injuries, illnesses keep Gophers off the field Brewster said there were a few players who were injured or sick and didnâÄôt play on Saturday. In addition to Sherels, junior right guard Matt Carufel did not play because of an ankle injury, Brewster said. Brewster also said sophomore defensive end Anthony Jacobs did not play because of residual effects from a concussion. Sophomore defensive tackle Jewhan Edwards also did not play. âÄúThis time of year, thereâÄôs a lot of guys that are nicked up, banged up,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúWeâÄôve got to get some guys healthy, weâÄôve got to get some guys rested up a little bit this week and weâÄôll do that.âÄù Bowl scenario With their sixth win Saturday, the Gophers are eligible to play in a bowl game for the second consecutive season and ninth time in 11 seasons. After Saturday, seven Big Ten teams, including Minnesota, are bowl eligible and only one team (Michigan) can still become bowl eligible. Michigan (1-6 Big Ten, 5-6 overall) needs to win at Ohio State next Saturday to become bowl eligible. The Big Ten has seven bowl tie-ins, which means that there are spots for seven Big Ten teams. However, if the Big Ten has two teams in Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games as it did last year, then there would be eight spots available. If Minnesota loses at No. 15 Iowa, Michigan wins at No. 9 Ohio State and the Big Ten has no other teams in the BCS, then Minnesota could be left out of a bowl. As a six-win team, however, the Gophers would be eligible for selection by any bowl that doesnâÄôt have a six-win team to select from one of its tied-in conferences. There are 34 bowls, so 68 of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams will play in a bowl. Ohio State (6-1, 9-2) earned the Big TenâÄôs automatic bid to the BCS with its overtime win against Iowa (5-2, 9-2) on Saturday. The Buckeyes, who have won or shared five consecutive Big Ten titles, will play in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. After the BCS has selected teams for its games, the six other Big Ten-tied bowls pick teams in order, usually selecting the highest remaining team in the conference standings. Depending on the outcomes of next SaturdayâÄôs game at Iowa, a couple other Big Ten games and the BCS selections, the Gophers could go to the Valero Alamo Bowl (which has the third pick of a Big Ten team after the BCS), the Champs Sports Bowl (which picks fourth), the Insight Bowl (where the Gophers have lost to Texas Tech and Kansas in 2006 and 2008, respectively), the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit (which could be in a position to pick Michigan State or Michigan over Minnesota), another bowl as an at-large team or no bowl at all. The GophersâÄô bowl destination will be announced Sunday, Dec. 6.