Time to find out more about Minnesota

Originally Published: September 24, 2003
By Herb Gould | Special to ESPN.com
It's still hard to say how good the unbeaten Gophers are because of their no-contest nonconference schedule. But they turned up their defense a notch in a 48-14 rout of Louisiana-Lafayette after being chided by coach Glen Mason for poor tackling in last week's 42-20 win at Ohio. "We played a lot better than we've been playing,'' Mason said of a defense that forced two turnovers while holding Lafayette to 204 yards, including only 50 rushing yards.

  • One thing that Minnesota has after pounding its four nonconference victims by an average of 34 points a game is confidence heading into Big Ten play. "As long as we keep our heads on straight and keep practicing the way we have been, it shouldn't be a big change,'' receiver Jared Ellerson said.

  • The Gophers know the bar will be raised significantly at Penn State this week. But they are looking forward to measuring themselves against their first quality opponent. "We still have a long ways to go,'' Mason said. "Penn State will be more talented than anybody we've faced, and we're going into a hostile environment. But I'm looking forward to going there.'' Minnesota has won its last two meetings with Penn State, beating the Nittany Lions 25-16 in Minneapolis in 2000 and 24-23 in 1999 at State College.

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