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Woeful Minnesota far from being competitive

November 1, 2010

COLUMBUS (AP) - What's brewing with the 2010 Ohio State Buckeyes ...

BUCKEYES BUZZ: Jim Tressel said last week that he thought Minnesota could still contend in the Big Ten.

Then again, that was before the Buckeyes played the Golden Gophers.

After a 52-10 kick in the teeth, it didn't appear that the Golden Gophers will contend for sixth place in the conference anytime soon, let alone the top spot.

There's no need to go into a post-mortem of the latest beatdown. Suffice it to say that the loss was their eighth in a row and dropped them to 1-8 on the year. The only win was against Middle Tennessee State, and it was by a hardly decisive 24-17 count.

Here's a stat that should send a chill down the backs of the few remaining Golden Gophers fans: The last time a Minnesota team had fewer than three losses in Big Ten play was 1973. That Minnesota squad went 6-2 in Big Ten play - and lost to the Buckeyes 56-7 in the season opener and 34-7 to Michigan.

As it begins to look for a replacement for the fired Tim Brewster, maybe Minnesota needs to ask itself how good it can possibly be in the Big Ten.

The school is stuck in a state that's not exactly a prep football hotbed, and stuck in a city where its football exploits are microscopic in importance compared to the goings-on of the Twins, Vikings, Wild and T-Wolves, among others.

Another troubling question is if Joel Maturi, the man who helped pinpoint the last head coach, is up to the task of hiring the next one. He canned Glen Mason after the Golden Gophers blew a 38-7 third-quarter lead, losing to run-and-gun Texas Tech 44-41 in the 2006 Insight Bowl.

Still, at least Mason, who was an impressive 65-57 in 10 years at Minnesota, had the Golden Gophers in seven bowl games.

"I felt we needed a new voice, a new vision and new leadership to bring a football championship to the University of Minnesota," Maturi said when he fired Mason.

So then he went out and hired Tim Brewster, a former NFL tight-ends coach who had never before even been considered for a head coaching job in college. He went 15-30 in 3-plus years before being fired three weeks ago.

As Saturday's lopsided outcome shows, it may be years before Minnesota is competitive in the Big Ten again - unless it focuses on improvement instead of championships, and on being competitive instead of titles.

REALLY? Minnesota interim coach Jeff Horton: "Ohio State is just a better football team than where we are at this point in time."

POLL DANCING: The Buckeyes moved up to No. 8 in the Associated Press Top 25 this week.

Oregon was again No. 1, followed by Boise State, Auburn and TCU. Alabama moved up a slot to fifth, followed by Utah, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Nebraska and Stanford.

Iowa is 15th (up three rungs), one spot ahead of Michigan State, which plummeted 11 spots with its first loss of the season.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: QB Terrelle Pryor after the Buckeyes piled up 507 yards while averaging almost 7 yards per play: "The offense played great. We needed the good start from an offensive perspective because we have not played very well on the road."

LESS THAN .500: Ohio State's opponents thus far are 35-40 and it has not beaten a team ranked in the AP Top 25. The only teams the Buckeyes have vanquished who have winning records are Ohio (6-3), Miami (5-3) and Illinois (5-3).

The three teams left on the schedule, after this bye week, have a combined record of 16-8 overall and 6-6 in Big Ten play.