quarterback Mitch Leidner, left, hands off the ball to
running back David Cobb during the first quarter of an NCAA
college football game against Northwestern in Minneapolis,
Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014.
Minnesota is 3-0
in Big Ten play for the first time since 1990. Big Ten newcomer
Maryland has won two of three conference games and is within
striking distance of Michigan State and Ohio State in the East.
Not bad for a
couple teams picked to finish fifth in their divisions.
Division-leading Gophers are on track to finish with a record
better than the previous season for the fourth straight year under
Jerry Kill. At 6-1, they're off to their best start since Tim
Brewster's 2008 team won seven of its first eight. A victory at
Illinois this week would make Minnesota 4-0 in the Big Ten for the
first time since 1967.
head coach Randy Edsall, right, hugs wide receiver Stefon
Diggs (1) after he scored a touchdown during the second half
of an NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday,
Oct. 18, 2014, in College Park, Md. Maryland won 38-31.
Kill said last
week's 39-38 win over Purdue revealed some pluck that the Gophers
hadn't shown before. They won for the first time in 23 games after
trailing at halftime. Kill said he issued a challenge in the
locker room when they were down 31-20.
to go out and prove that we're a good football team, and the only
way to do that is come back. So they did," Kill said Tuesday.
"They showed some character and didn't panic, and showed some
maturity, which we haven't had. It was a huge win for a lot of
reasons, but certainly being able to come back is something we
haven't done a whole lot of."
fancy about Minnesota, whose only loss was at the Big 12's TCU.
The durable David Cobb, who's fourth in the nation with 144.7
yards a game, has had 30 or more carries in four straight games.
Quarterback Max Leidner is a serviceable passer and capable
defense is middle-of-the-pack in the Big Ten statistically but has
limited big plays.
has Jerry's personality all over it," Northwestern coach Pat
Fitzgerald said. "They're physical on both sides of the line
of scrimmage. They know who they are as far as what they're trying
to accomplish in all three phases."
quarterback Mitch Leidner (7) hands off the ball to running
back David Cobb (27) during the second half of an NCAA
college football game against Purdue, Saturday, Oct. 18,
2014, in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 39-38.
toughest games are in November. They play Iowa and Ohio State at
home and finish on the road against Nebraska and Wisconsin.
finished no higher than fifth in its division in its last three
years in the Atlantic Coast Conference, has been one of the Big
Ten's surprise teams despite a run of injuries.
lost 52-24 to Ohio State three weeks ago — their other loss was
to the Big 12's West Virginia — and should stay in the East race
until the end if they can win at Wisconsin this week.
they've fit in very well in the Big Ten, and they came from a
quality conference," Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said.
"They're a great addition, which we all believed."
quarterback C.J. Brown, center, runs with the ball against
Iowa during the first half of an NCAA college football game,
Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, in College Park, Md. Maryland won
38-31. Also seen is Maryland offensive lineman Michael Dunn
The Terps are
averaging 35 points a game with a versatile offense led by
double-threat quarterback C.J. Brown and two of the Big Ten's best
receivers in Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. The offense's production
has covered for a defense that has given up 39 plays of 20 yards
coming off its most satisfying Big Ten win, rallying from 14
points down in the fourth quarter to beat Iowa 38-31. Brown ran 21
times for 99 yards despite missing a quarter with a back injury.
there were outstanding coaches in this league, outstanding
players, and that's come to bear out as we've played," Terps
coach Randy Edsall said. "You take a look at what these
people do and try to make them do something different. But what
you have to do is focus on what you do and try to get better. So
far we're 5-2, and we'll see where we go from here."