Tim Brewster is a realist. Minnesota’s first-year head coach knows most people think the Golden Gophers are longshots of historic proportions. He also knows the Metrodome will be rocking tonight when Ohio State tries to extend its unbeaten season into primetime.
Aside from daydreaming about Ohio State linebacker and native son James Laurinaitis, Tim Brewster is a realist. Minnesota’s first-year head coach knows most people think the Golden Gophers are longshots of historic proportions.
He also knows the Metrodome will be rocking tonight when Ohio State tries to extend its unbeaten season into primetime.
“We’ve got a tremendous challenge ... but I look at it as a great opportunity,” Brewster said. “Nobody’s giving us a snowball’s chance to be in this game. You know what? That’s great. We’re going to ... prepare like crazy. Our football team is going to be a confident team when we step on the field. We’re going to believe we can win.”
Minnesota might start with holding on to the football.
In addition to having the bottom-ranked defense in the nation, the Gophers have been ground hogs with the ball. Minnesota has turned it over 16 times and is minus-12 in the giveaway-takeaway ratio.
So Brewster has spent the week preaching to his team to believe. Minnesota does have one of the country’s most productive offenses.
“If we take care of things we can control and play as hard as we can play, we can beat Ohio State,” Brewster said. “We can talk and reflect back about how Minnesota won in 2000, but what’s most important is what we do today.
“Like Marty Schottenheimer told me, ‘Winning is not hard. It’s the willingness to prepare to win that’s hard.’ We’re still teaching our kids about that process.”
Eighth-ranked Ohio State is looking to extend a school-record 22-game regular-season win streak. Buckeye Head Coach Jim Tressel talked up the Gophers this week. Whether his players believe him will be revealed tonight.
One player the Buckeyes haven’t had to worry about showing up is linebacker James Laurinaitis. The Nagurski winner a year ago, Laurinaitis is off to a stronger start this season.
He grew up in Minnesota, the son of a famous father. Joe Laurinaitis was half of the big-time wrestling tag team champions “Road Warriors.”
“I’ve daydreamed about this kid,” Brewster said. “He’s a kid who’s just a tremendous football player out of Wayzata High School right here in town. He’s one of the best players in America. I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell you I dream about him playing in maroon and gold.”
This will be the best test this season for Laurinaitis and his defensive teammates. Minnesota is averaging nearly 500 yards a game.
“Minnesota spreads it out. They run the quarterback, they run the screens, they throw deep and they’ve got the good tradition of the running game,” Tressel said. “Our guys know they’ve got a challenge coming up.”
Reach Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org