If the Minnesota Golden Gophers take another 31-point lead in the Insight Bowl on Wednesday, they plan on winning the game this time.
(AP) — If the Minnesota Golden Gophers take another 31-point lead in the Insight Bowl on Wednesday, they plan on winning the game this time.Two years ago, Minnesota led Texas Tech 38-7 midway through the third quarter only to watch the Red Raiders rally for a 44-41 overtime victory, the biggest comeback in major-college bowl history.The fallout was swift for a Minnesota program long mired in mediocrity. Coach Glen Mason was fired almost as quickly as the big lead evaporated. Then the Golden Gophers stumbled to a 1-11 record in the following season under his successor, Tim Brewster.Now Minnesota (7-5) returns to the scene of its collapse. The Golden Gophers will face Kansas (7-5) in the Insight Bowl in Sun Devil Stadium — and they don’t want to relive history.“We do have a lot of players that were part of that football team,” said Brewster, who was on the Denver Broncos’ staff in 2006. “It was very disappointing to finish like it finished. But we can’t control what happened two years ago. We can control (this) New Year’s Eve.”This season, the Golden Gophers improved by six victories over 2007. But the season played out much like the 2006 Insight Bowl: Minnesota started fast and couldn’t finish.After opening 7-1 and cracking The Associated Press Top 25, the Golden Gophers dropped their last four games. The skid started on Homecoming, when Northwestern returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown with 12 seconds left to stun the Gophers 24-17. Twenty-one days later, suffered a humiliating 55-0 loss to border rival Iowa for its fourth straight defeat.“We didn’t finish the season the way we wanted,” Brewster said. “But you know what, we accomplished a great deal this season. We’re the biggest turnaround in college football: from one win to seven wins. We’re awful proud of that.”To snap their skid, the Gophers may have to figure out a way to control KU quarterback Todd Reesing, who is among the national leaders in completions (seventh at 25.17 per game), passing yards (eighth at 297.2 yards per game) and total offense (ninth at 313.4 yards per game).“Todd Reesing is as good a quarterback as there is in the country,” Brewster said. “He does a great job with his feet. He is extremely dangerous.”Reesing has put up some startling numbers, but he spent this season in the background as three Big 12 South quarterbacks — Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford of Oklahoma, Heisman runner-up Colt McCoy of Texas and Graham Harrell of Texas Tech — dominated the spotlight.Reesing’s best moment may have come in the regular-season finale, when he connected with Kerry Meier on a 26-yard score with 27 seconds left to beat arch rival No. 12 Missouri 40-37 in Kansas City.Reesing is 19-6 as a starter and has played a central role in Kansas’ march to national prominence. A school known for basketball dominance — KU won the NCAA tournament last spring — has upgraded its football profile under coach Mark Mangino.Last year, the Jayhawks made their first Bowl Championship Series appearance, defeating Virginia Tech 24-21 in the Orange Bowl.The victory came 60 years and two days after Kansas’ first bowl appearance. In between, the Jayhawks played in only nine other bowl games.On Wednesday, they’ll make back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time. Mangino and his players have been savoring their success since arriving in the desert last week.“What you are seeing now is not just a couple of years,” said Mangino, who is 44-41 in seven seasons. “This is a body of work that started in 2002, and our program has taken steps continually since then.“Our feeling is that we are still a work in progress,” Mangino said. “We haven’t arrived. There is no great destination for us. We just keep at it all of the time and keep working at it.”