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The Daily Gopher Fix 9.23.08

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As the 2008 football season is about to get serious, the broad question that will define this season is this, as asked by the bloggers at Fourth and Dumb:

Like Northwestern, the Golden Gophers did not face anyone with a pulse, but they are definitely better than last year.  Will one or both of these teams be a factor in conference play, or will they just hold up well enough to go bowling?

In all honestly, that's the question that defines the University of Minnesota football program. Jim Wacker and his predecessors couldn't get the Gophers to even average bowls. Glen Mason made the Gophers a perennial player in lower-tier bowls, but that too soon grew old. Mason was ushered out and the expectations rose again. These days, success isn't the Centrum/Viagra Performance Bowl, it's contending for Big Ten championships and major bowls.

That might be too much to ask coming off a 1-11 season. But I'd bet the energy that we now see with a 4-0 record subsides if the Gophers stumble through the Big Ten schedule. Looking at the schedule, and having watched the Big Ten stumble through non-conference play, it seems to me Brewster's team has a chance for something more.

The Gophers have home games against Indiana (just throttled by Ball State), a weak Northwestern team, a transitioning Michigan team and a season-ended against Iowa. All four are winnable. The four road games could be tough--at Ohio State, Illinois, Purdue and Wisconsin. Anyone else think winning 8 games is reasonable?

  • The Minnesota Daily notes that the Gophers are two gamess away from bowl eligibility. Again, I wonder if Minnesota fans will be bored with lower tier bowls.
  • Eleven Warriors begins to brace OSU fans for the possibility that Beanie Wells might be out for the entire year.
  • If Tubby Smith has met expectations in the recruiting department, well, Thad Matta in Columbus continues to exceed expectations. Matta has what might be the best class for 2010. Yes, 2010. Minnesota's class of 2009 is still in the works. From Buckeye Grove.

The Ohio State Buckeyes recruiting train just keeps on rolling. Days after getting a verbal from five star shooting guard Jordan Sibert, OSU got more good news on the recruiting from on Monday. Lenzelle Smith Jr., a four star prospect out of Chicago, and has decided to join Ohio State's 2010 recruiting class and he becomes the fifth commitment in a group that is shaping up to be possibly the best in the country.

  • Don Lucia's team is ranked ninth nationally in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Preseason poll. BC, Michigan and Notre Dame round out the top three. Full poll here. How many here follow Lucia's boys?
  • Things aren't pretty in Iowa, writes Adam Rittenberg of the 4-letter. Over the last 17 months, 19 Hawkeyes have been arrested. And, as Rittenberg points out, Kirk Ferentz was exonerated of any wrong doing over  a sexual assault case involving Iowa players some thought he might have covered up..
  • Please continue to vote in the poll to name The Daily Fix. It's a two-name race at the moment and if it stays really tight, we might have a run-off!