Coyote Ugly: Minnesota Upset 41-38 by FCS' South Dakota
The following year, the Gophers lost to NDSU at the Metrodome, providing the signature loss in a 1-11 season under first-year coach Tim Brewster.
Last year, Minnesota struggled throughout a 16-13 win over South Dakota State.
Saturday's 41-38 loss to South Dakota may be a new low for Brewster, now in his fourth year.
Playing the Coyotes, who were in Division II just three years ago, the Gophers struggled at times on offense. On defense, it wouldn't be inaccurate to say their performance was a near-total embarrassment. Junior quarterback Dante Warren carved up the Minnesota defense with his arm and his legs, accounting for five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) and over 400 total yards.
The Coyotes took a 7-3 lead in the first quarter on a Chris Ganious touchdown run. They wouldn't trail again. Warren's first touchdown pass came in the second quarter and gave USD a 14-3 lead. The teams traded touchdowns before halftime, and the Coyotes led by 11 at the break.
South Dakota took its largest lead on the opening drive of the third quarter, when Warren hit Will Powell for 61 yards and a score. Minnesota kept battling back, closing the deficit to 28-24, 34-31, and 41-38 -- the eventual final score -- but never got over the hump. Adam Weber threw two touchdown passes in the second half, and Duane Bennett scored twice in the fourth quarter.
In the end, though, Minnesota couldn't make a defensive stop when it needed one, or even when it didn't need one. The Gophers picked Warren off twice, but he still hit 21 of 30 passes for 352 yards. He also ran for 81 yards. Powell had eight catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns for the Coyotes.
For the embattled Brewster, this was the last thing that needed to happen. He's come under fire for a lack of progress in the program since taking over, and allowing 41 points and nearly 450 yards to a transitional FCS team won't signify anything positive about his football team. The Gopher defense didn't look anything close to Big Ten caliber on this day, routinely blowing coverages and missing tackles. They looked especially silly on a fourth down play in the fourth quarter. Warren faked to Ganious, rolled to his right, and was completely untouched and undisturbed on a 40-yard touchdown run. If a team still transitioning to Division I can do that, what will happen when Minnesota tries to tackle the likes of Terrelle Pryor?
Minnesota is 1-1, and will face the potential for disaster next week when USC comes to TCF Bank Stadium. That game against Northern Illinois the following week doesn't look any easier after Saturday's performance.