Bloomington, Ind.- The Hoosiers will battle Minnesota for the first time since the 2000 season. Indiana enters the matchup at 1-7, 0-4 in the Big Ten, while Minnesota is 7-2, 3-2 in conference.
The Hoosiers will face a tough task in Minnesota. The Gophers lead the Big Ten in both scoring and total offense. They are led by senior quarterback and two-year captain Asad Abdul-Khaliq. Abdul-Khaliq leads the nation in pass efficiency at 179.4.
He is a really good player. Hes a veteran player and a two-year captain, Indiana head coach Gerry DiNardo said. He has qualities you dont see on tape, such as leadership qualities. Hes the real deal. This is a really good Minnesota team. They got early momentum, and theyre playing like it.
The Hoosier defense continues to show improvement during the 2003 season. Freshman Jake Powers made his first collegiate start last week and registered 13 tackles and a sack. The Hoosiers will face another tough task this week with Minnesota, who like Ohio State starts its offense with the run.
You explain the plan to them, make them practice hard, make them play hard on gameday, and if they dont, you replace the guys that dont play hard the following week, DiNardo said. That hasnt been a problem with us. Our guys have played and practiced hard. I dont anticipate that being a problem, but if it is, well address it. I have no reason to believe they wont play hard and prepare hard.
Indiana will take on No. 19 Minnesota at 2:05 p.m. in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. The game can be heard on the IU Radio Network with Don Fischer (p-b-p), Dan Thompson (analysis) and Joe Smith (pre game, halftime and post game) on the call. Fans can also keep up with the Hoosiers on the Internet. The live stats link from Minnesota is http://www.gophersports.com/Gameday/mfball/stats/xlive.htm.
Indiana and Minnesota do battle for the 61st time. The Golden Gophers own a 33-24-3 edge.
The Hoosiers have had recent success against Minnesota, winning nine of the last 12 meetings. Indiana has dropped the last two contests at Minnesota but is 3-3 in the last six games in Minneapolis.
Indiana has rushed for 1,108 yards this season and needs just 291 more rushing yards to eclipse its team rushing total from a season ago.
The Hoosiers are looking for their first road victory since November 10, 2001 (vs. Michigan State). Indiana has dropped 11 straight on the road.
Entering Saturdays contest with a 7-2 overall record and a 3-2 mark in Big Ten play are the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Minnesota has one of the nations most explosive running attacks, leading the Big Ten and ranking third nationally with 285.8 rushing yards per game. The Gophers also rank in the top 10 nationally in total offense (4th-492.4), scoring offense (9th-39.8) and pass efficiency (2nd-167.16).
Minnesotas defense is solid as well, ranking 29th nationally in total defense (326.8) and 31st in scoring defense (19.3).
Last Time Out for the Gophers
Minnesota is coming off a 36-10 win over Illinois in Champaign in which the Gophers rolled up 338 yards rushing, behind a 22-carry, 179-yard performance from Laurence Maroney and a 24-carry, 129-yard effort from Marion Barber, III. Asad Abdul-Khaliq completed 12 of his 15 pass attempts for 237 yards and three touchdowns, with receiver Aaron Hosack catching three passes for 112 yards.
Who to Watch
Minnesota wins with offense, and the leader of that group is Abdul-Khaliq. The senior has completed 104 of his 163 pass attempts for 1,709 yards and 16 touchdowns on the year and has carried the ball 60 times for 295 yards and three touchdowns. His 179.4 efficiency rating leads the nation.
Along with Abdul-Khaliq, Minnesota has four other players with over 250 yards rushing this year. Marion Barber, III is closing in on a 1,000-yard season with 145 carries for 888 yards and 15 touchdowns. Barber ranks in the top 10 nationally in all-purpose yards (5th-157.9) and in scoring (9th-10.0 ppg). Laurence Maroney complements Barber well in the running game, registering 90 carries for 622 yards and seven touchdowns.
DiNardo on Minnesota
This is my first game against Minnesota. I think program-wise, Glen Mason has done a good job. Everyone that follows college football would agree with that. They had six losing seasons before he took over. That is a lot of losing seasons to overcome. Where he has that program is a really tremendous coaching job. I would relate it to some of the great turnarounds in college football. This Minnesota team specifically; their offense is one of the best conceived attacks Ive seen in a long time. Its basically a one-back attack. They do some really good and unique things that will challenge a defense. They are playing the best defense they have ever played since hes been there. They have a rugby-style punt. They cause you a lot of problems. Theyre a well-coached, big, physical team. Theyll look a little like Ohio State up front, physically.