The Gopher football program and Tim Brewster could have used a signature win in 2009. Defeating either California, Penn State, or Ohio State would have influenced the future course of the program. The sentiment of the fans would have been different today, even if the record were only 7-4 instead of 6-5.
But wouldn't a win versus #15 Iowa be a signature win? No.
Don't be mistaken, Iowa is a good team. They have an excellent defense, a top tier coach, and one of the better offensive lines in the country. In fact, I predicted them to win the Big Ten championship before the season started. A win would be sweet revenge for last season's 55-0 route of the Gophers in the Metrodome, but it would not be a signature win.
The bottom line is that outside of Minnesota and Iowa fans, nobody else cares about this game. Iowa isn't playing for a Rose Bowl berth or a Big Ten championship. Both teams are perennial second tier Big Ten programs. Iowa is currently at the peak of the program's potential, and Minnesota is somewhere above the valley of the program's worst season in 2007.
Minnesota and Iowa fans can both banter about "Hate Week," debate the superiority of rural Iowan versus urban Minnesotan culture, and covet a little metal trophy of a pig, but nobody else cares. To New Yorkers, both teams are from flyover country. To Southerners, we're all still just "Yankees." To Californians, anyone who lives in Minnesota or Iowa is just missing out.
I don't expect the Gophers to even keep the game close tomorrow. I'll still watch the game, just like I occasionally watch the Powerball ping pong balls roll on out as I look at my ticket with a feeling of false hope. Don't get me wrong, the sensation of false hope is definitely worth a dollar now and again. If the improbable...nearly impossible, were to happen and the Gophers win, it will give the Gophers bragging rights but not the signature win that they so needed this year.