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of Big Ten
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battle for the Little Brown Jug.
And the Wolverines almost always
win. They have taken the trophy home
26 of the past 28 years.
In fact, the closest the Golden
Gophers normally come to the Jug is a
restaurant with a similar name on South
University. They can eat there when in
This year the game is in Minneapolis.
"Rats!" if you-are a Minnesota fan.
The Golden Gophers haven't sipped
victory wine from the Little Brown Jug
since 1986. or won more than four
games since 1990. So how is Jim
Wacker approaching his fifth season as
Minnesota head coach?
"I have a couple of screws loose, so
I'm always optimistic," Wacker said.
"Hopefully, we can make it into the top
half of the Big Ten and go to a bowl
First-year defensive coordinator Tim
Rose has installed a "ramblin' and
scramblin"' defensive package, with
the hopes of landing the Gophers their
first bowl bid since 1986.
A year ago, Minnesota had a defense
that made your ring finger look strong.
The Gophers ranked 10th in the Big Ten
in rushing defense, and were last in
passing defense, total defense and scor-
"It's no secret that we need to
improve .on the defensive side of the
ball," Wacker said. "If we do that, then
we have the chance to be a pretty good
Fortunately for Wacker, junior quar-
terback Cory Sauter leads an offensive
attack that ranked second in the Big Ten
and 18th nationally in passing offense a
year ago. Last season, Sauter estab-
lished new single-season school
records with a completion percentage
of .604 and 2,600 yards passing.
"Obviously, it's a big plus to have
Cory returning at quarterback," Wacker
said. "Going into the season, we know
who the starting quarterback will be."
Wacker, however, has a hole in his
He must replace former Heisman tro-
phy candidate Chris Darkins with
junior Javon Jackson and senior Tommy
So will Wacker and company have
enough firepower to beat Michigan for
the first time in 10 seasons? Probably
not. The last time the two teams met in
the Metrodome was 1993, when a 4-5
Minnesota team met a 5-4 Michigan
So what happened?
The Wolverines led, 41-0, at the half
and won, 58-7.
Minnesota and the Wolverines return
to the sight of that massacre Oct. 26.
When the Big Ten's II coaches con-
vened in Chicago at the end of July,
something was slightly amiss.
Sure, there was a mass of media
around Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and
Ohio State coach John Cooper, but the
biggest crowd was around Northwestern
coach Gary Barnett.
And he was wearing a commemora-
tive Rose Bowl watch.
Yes, the Wildcats are the defending
Big Ten champions, but Barnett insists
the rest of the conference isn't chasing
Northwestern, or at least he's telling his
"Once you become the hunted, you act
differently, you play differently, your
internal chemistry is different," Barnett
said. "I want to remain the hunter."
Cinderella tries for
ball; will the shoe ti
Whomever's hunting whom, Barnett
can be assured that the rest of the coun-
try will be watching to see if last year
was a fluke, or if Northwestern is on the
football map to stay.
Helping to try and convince folks it's
the latter are nine starters from last sea-
son's offense. At the top of the list is run-
ning back Darnell Autry, the media's
preseason pick for Offensive Player of
Autry rushed for over 100 yards in
every game last season, finishing with a
Steve Schnur, who
threw for 1,792
yards last season,
will again be calling
get should be junior
Bates hauled in 49
receptions last sea-
son and had a 145-
yard performance in
the Rose Bowl.
On defense, s'
inside linebacker Pat
Fitzgerald returns The Wildcats lost,
after leading the Big their Cinderella, st
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OFF THE SCHEDULE
M' to miss improved Hawkeyes,
experienced Badgers this year
Hoosiers try to stay out of league cellar
hJ~~i os ahead
615 E. Liberty
Sat til 4:20
cm aE@nkg Dm @ oc 8
Iowa coach Hayden Fry found him-
self entering the season in an unfamiliar
position - a preseason favorite.
The Hawkeyes finished strong last
season with a 38-18 win over Pac-10
co-champion Washington in the Sun
Bowl. They return seven starters on
each side of the ball, and opened the
season with a 21-20 win over Arizona.
On offense, Iowa will look to two
Senior Sedrick Shaw ran for nearly
1,500 yards last year, and while junior
Tavian Banks picked up just 400 yards,
he averaged 6.1 yards per carry.
Defensively, sophomore Vernon
Rollins returns at linebacker. Rollins
finished second on the team in tackles
last season with an even 100.
WISCONSIN: In terms of experience,
few teams in the Big Ten have as much
as the Badgers.
Barry Alvarez's squad returns 18
starters from last season.
Unfortunately for Wisconsin, they
are 18 starters from a team that finished
However, the Badgers do have seven
offensive linemen who are entering
their fifth-years, and they helped in
wearing down Eastern Michigan's
defense in Wisconsin's opener, which
the Badgers won, 24-3.
Quarterback Mike Samuel steps in
for Darrell Bevell, who finally wore out
his collegiate eligibility.
Linebacker Pete Monty returns on
defense after having led the team in
tackles with 137 last year.
- Ryan White
Maybe Maurice Taylor, Louis Bullock
and Robert Traylor should suit up for
this one. It would give them practice
playing in Bloomington, and all of them
are probably big and strong enough.
But Traylor is probably too big and
strong - he might hurt somebody -
and it wouldn't help anyway. They'd
think playing in Bloomington is easy.
Bloomington means basketball, not
football. Bobby Knight is king, and Bill
Mallory is ... well, who?
Face it, Hoosier fans (if there are any
out there): When it comes to the grid-
iron, Indiana is as bad as it is obscure.
This is a team that did not win a Big
Ten game last year, had two wins total,
and whose biggest backer is not a
famous, rich former player; it's a rock"
And the training center John
Mellencamp donated to the Hoosiers
isn't going to help them much this year,
either. Their best hopes for victory
come in their non-conference schedule,
which includes such national power-
houses as Toledo, Miami (Ohio) and
Kentucky. In the Big Ten, they might
only have a shot at Purdue in their final
Michigan should be simply too
much. The Wolverines beat them, 34-
17, last year, getting out to a 24-3 half-
time lead and coasting home as easy as
a farmer on his way back from the
Stats were padded. Pads were hardly
Indiana might have a decent little
running back in Alex Smith, who
gained 769 yards and scored three
touchdowns in 1995, and a good defen-
sive end in Nathan Davis, who recorded
60 tackles last year, but it's not enough.
Bloomington, in the words of
Mellencamp, is a small town - big
enough for only one sport.
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika