1. The defense. Aside from the opening drive, it was an impressive performance from top to bottom. I think it’s safe to say that the unit has improved more than anyone could have reasonably expected, given last year. The secondary did a great job making up for Kovacs' absence.
2. Denard’s passing. INT also aside, he threw the ball accurately and confidently.
3. The safety. It’s always a pleasure to see your team score one of these rarities.
4. Fitz. This was a breakout performance. Borges put him in a great position to succeed, and he executed. I’m not sure why we didn’t see more of him against MSU, because it does look like he’s our best tailback. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in the coming weeks.
1. The opening drive. I feel I’m stretching to find things to criticize, but for the first 2 minutes of the game, things didn’t look good. I had flashbacks to 2009 when this happened. Thankfully it was just one drive, and when everything was said and done, our team looked more 2006 than 2009.
2. Putting Gardner in for random plays when the game was still in question. I know others feel differently, and I’m open to being convinced that I’m wrong, but I just don’t get it. Yes, he’s immensely talented, and will eventually make an excellent starting QB, but Denard is currently our best QB and the engine that makes our offense go. The INT play seemed particuarly odd, given Denard's 60-yard completion. I felt better about Borges putting Gardner in short-yardage situations (when his size can be impactful) and in garbage time (when he can get experience). It upset me early on when the score was close, but when all was said and done, it wasn’t all that consequential, and he had some good plays later.
1. Injuries on the O-line. It was bad when Barnum came out, and worse when it Lewan started limping. Here’s hoping for speedy recoveries, both for their sakes (always hate seeing anyone get injured) and for the team's: we have limited depth on the O-line, and we need good performances from our O-line in the very-winnable-but-potentially-difficult games against Iowa and Illinois coming up.
1. After all his ridiculousness during the RR era, the fact that we really beat the snot out of Danny Hope’s team.
2. Winning a conference game against someone other than 2011 Minnesota in [edit: such] convincing fashion. The last time that happened was against an actually pretty good 2008 version of Minnesota.
3. Securing a winning season for the second year in a row. There was once a time when getting a seventh win wouldn’t have excited me like it does now, but after reading “Three and Out” and reliving all the crushing losses from 2008 and 2009, and knowing how they impacted the players and coaching staff, it feels great to reach this milestone, even if it is just a small step on the road back to glory. Congrats to Hoke, his staff and all our players.