Final game at the Metrodome is an embarrassing one for Minnesota

Minnesota would probably welcome a case of amnesia right now. Knowing no more than the Gophers 7-5 record would probably impress most. It indicates a marked improvement on the 1-11 year the Gophers suffered through in 2007 . But those who know better âÄî those who know of four straight losses to close the season, the last being a 55-0 embarrassment at the hands of Iowa on Saturday night âÄî find little cause for celebration. ThereâÄôs no shortage of forgettable Metrodome moments, but MinnesotaâÄôs final game in the bubble may top the list of meltdowns. It wasnâÄôt the largest margin of defeat the Gophers have suffered at home âÄî that came courtesy of Nebraska, 84-13 in 1983 âÄî but it was their worst home loss ever in Big Ten play. Even for a team thatâÄôs become renowned for failure in big games, itâÄôs difficult to find a recent game when Minnesota has fallen this flat with so much on the line. Take Senior Night, for example. Instead of a send-off to remember, the GophersâÄô veterans are wishing they had a do-over. âÄúThis really hurts, to go out like that,âÄù senior linebacker Steve Davis said. âÄúWe got a bowl game to look forward to âĦ thatâÄôs the only good thing about it; we got one more game to play.âÄù Of course, that game will likely end up being the Motor City Bowl, the conferenceâÄôs worst bowl bid; this just weeks after a 7-1 start had some wondering if the Gophers would be playing on New YearâÄôs Day. By the end of the third quarter, the crowd that started 64,071 strong was whittled down to a fraction of that. Nearly all of them were HawkeyesâÄô faithful that chose to stick around and revel in IowaâÄôs utter dismantling of the Gophers. âÄúI donâÄôt really know where to start,âÄù head coach Tim Brewste r said to open the postgame press conference. Any statistic will do. Even the least lopsided indicates just how ugly the game was. For example, juxtapose Hawkeyes quarterback Ricky StanziâÄôs 255 passing yards and three touchdowns with Adam WeberâÄôs 127 and two interceptions. Both men were yanked early in the fourth quarter. Stanzi because Iowa had already mounted a 48-0 lead, Weber because his confidence was surely shaken after perhaps the worst performance of his collegiate career. âÄúThe kid plays on,âÄù was all Brewster really had to say of his sophomore quarterback. But MinnesotaâÄôs passing struggles Saturday paled in comparison to its complete ineptitude in the ground game. Brewster laid out his philosophy about running the football after the game: âÄúTo me, football is a very simple game. If you can run the football, and you can stop the run, youâÄôre going to be a successful football team.âÄù ItâÄôs very simple to see why the Gophers werenâÄôt successful âÄî they put up seven yards rushing. On 21 attempts, thatâÄôs a 0.3 yard per rush average. MinnesotaâÄôs leading rusher was backup quarterback Mike Maciejowski with two carries for 13 yards. On the other side of the ball, IowaâÄôs Shonn Greene put up 144 yards and a pair of scores. The Gophers defense contained him early, but it spent over 37 minutes on the field and, eventually, the junior running back and Heisman hopeful broke out. âÄúWe had guys in the gaps,âÄù Davis said. âÄú[But Greene would] make one guy miss and heâÄôd be out the gate.âÄù Other stats were just as lopsided: a 23-6 advantage for Iowa in first downs, three takeaways for the Hawkeyes to MinnesotaâÄôs zero, seven drives to the red zone for Iowa (all resulted in scores) compared to none for the Gophers. Nothing worked, nothing clicked and it didnâÄôt take long for the wheels to come off. The Hawkeyes settled for a pair of field goals early, but a three-play scoring drive in the second quarter that went from their own 27 to MinnesotaâÄôs end zone in 1:08 jump-started IowaâÄôs offensive barrage. âÄúIt was just one of those games tonight that all of a sudden just got away from us,âÄù Brewster said. The last four weeks have gotten away from the Gophers. Sure, Minnesota went from 1-11 to 7-5 in a year, but it will undoubtedly be the string of late season losses that define the 2008 Gophers unless they manage to turn things around and win their bowl game. Davis said after the game that he sensed âÄúa defeated attitude right nowâÄù throughout the team.