Big weekend for football, basketball and hockey. Hey, who wants that ugly trophy in the picture above? Anyone? Anyone? No? How about Minnesota's fourth straight conference win for the first time in like 50 years? Ok I thought so...
Philip Nelson is listed as your starter for tomorrow's big tilt with Penn State. If the other Gopher B1G games are any indication, that means Mitch Leidner should start hahaha. Ok this time, like for real, it should be Nelson, who's coming off a career day vs Indiana with 298 yards passing and 4 TD's. On the injury front, neither WR Derek Engel (ankle) or RB Nugget Williams (toe) were listed on the injury report (that I can't link to because since Claeys took over as interim head coach The U's official site doesn't post weekly the depth chart and injury report anymore). Engel is coming off his best game of the season with 97 yards receiving and two scores, and the senior has become a go-to guy for Nelson. We'll see how close to 100% he is, but Minnesota needs him in the lineup for an effective passing offense. Nugget hasn't played in a few weeks since injuring his toe or foot or both, and David Cobb has seized the starting job from him. We'll see if he's second or third on the depth chart for carries, but my bet is Donnell Kirkland Kirkwood will get the rock before Nugget.
Tyler Mason of FSN puts the focus on redshirt frosh TE Maxx Williams, who has turned into a key piece of Gophers' offensive puzzle. I heart Maxx.
SB Nation Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries has a game preview and in a shocker- seriously, make sure you're sitting down before you read this- they pick Minnesota to win! That, like...what are they doing?!? Our opponents are supposed to take a win over Minnesota for granted because we're Minnesota and we never win these games and every B1G opponent ever always beats the Gophers! Stop it with your reverse jinx, BSD, just stop it. Thankfully their commenters give us the kind of non-repsect we're used to. "Game will be over in the first half", "38-21 Penn State" the usual stuff. That's better. Oh, they also have a Q&A with some guy named JDMill.
Is it overstating things to say today is the biggest day of Richard Pitino's coaching tenure at Minnesota? Probably, but I'm not a basketball guy so I'll say it. And I'm not talking about their season opener at The Barn tonight vs Lehigh. Nope, with fellow Minnesota super prospects Tyus Jones and Rashad Vaughn looking like long shots to sign with the Gophers, five star recruit Reid Travis is set to announce his choice today: and if you can believe the rumors, he may be leaning towards choosing Minnesota. It would obviously be a huge get for Pitino, and Travis would be a foundational piece to build the program on. Travis is scheduled to make his announcement at DeLaSalle high school a few hours before the Gophers play tonight.
After a week off #1 ranked Gopher Hockey skates vs #3 Notre Dame tonight in South Bend. The MN Daily profiles the matchup of Gopher coach Don Lucia coaching vs his son Mario Lucia, who's a sophomore for Notre Dame as well as a Minnesota Wild prospect. Gophersports has a full preview as well with puck drop tonight at 7 on NBC Sports Network and tomorrow night at 6 (what? College Hockey on a Saturday night and not Sunday?!?!? Or Monday or Thursday? What is with this traditional game night stuff?) on...your computer? Smart phone? Tablet? Yeah the game will not be on television because NBC SN had to get a Gopher game on their channel, but since they're only showing the Friday night game, FSN or BTN won't send a crew to do just one game. So it'll only be streaming on BTN2Go. Too bad, as two of the three or four best teams in the country will not be available on television. Somehow Delany and Pegula are responsible for this!
Onto some other non-Gopher stuff then we'll let you get on with your Friday...
That thud you heard was the sound of not just Oregon's national title hopes crashing back to earth, but also the sound of Ducks' QB Marcus Mariota's draft stock plummeting. #5 Stanford manhandled #3 Oregon 26-20 in Palo Alto last night, likely locking up the Pac 12 North for The Cardinal while the Ducks will have to lick their fancy wounds and watch the national title game at home for another year. Mariota, the likely Heisman front-runner until last night, was having a ridiculous season until Stanford brought him back to earth. He still threw for 250 yards and two TD's and STILL hasn't thrown an interception, but the "bloom is definitely off the rose" of his draft stock, as he's likely no longer considered the #2 overall pick anymore. So don't worry Vikings fans, even though you lost by winning last night in hurting your draft position, you will likely no longer need a top 5 pick to get Mariota in the 2014 draft.
#5 Baylor passed their first test of the year with flying colors by stomping #12 Oklahoma 41-12. The Bears had played essentially no one before last night as they racked up incredible yardage and scoring numbers, but showed against the Sooners they should take Oregon's place among the top four unbeatens. They'll only get more opportunities in a back-loaded schedule as they close with Texas Tech, Okie State, TCU and Texas.
As you're probably already aware, Blockbuster Video was officially put to rest yesterday as the former video rental giant announced it will close it's remaining 300 stores by January and call it quits. To which everyone said- there were still 300 Blockbuster's open?