Wow. Eight wins. EIGHT FREAKING WINS!!!!! Ladies and gentlemen, your Minnesota Golden Gophers football squad has won eight games this season- and the season isn't even over yet!?!?! We have two weeks to bask in the glory of being 8-2, two weeks to prepare for the hated BADgers, two weeks to breakdown what this all means, where we go from here, and what can or will happen the rest of the season.
But from one Gopher football fan to another, I ask you only this: actually, I don't just ask, I IMPLORE you- enjoy this. Please. Take this week to enjoy an 8-2 football team, a team that's still in contention for the division title, a team that's the best story in all of college football this season. Take this week to remember where we were just four games ago, losers of two straight, facing the horrible possibility the Gophers wouldn't or couldn't find two more wins to get bowl eligible. Four straight conference wins later and here we sit. It is awesome and somewhat improbable and yet this is our reality. As Gopher fans we've been through a lot of pain, heartache, and bad, bad football over the years- too much, probably- so enjoy this week. Or even next. But appreciate this streak for being a great streak and for making it a great time to be a Gopher fan.
Gopher head coach Jerry Kill is just as amazed at the turnaround in Year 3 as you are:
"We haven't had three recruiting classes yet," Kill said. "Everywhere else we had three recruiting classes. So that's the unique thing about it."
Kill is lowest paid head coach in the B1G at $1.2 million, and I LOVE his response to whether he deserves a raise or not:
"Let's get everything, what it takes for us to win," Kill said. "Then when you feel comfortable that I deserve something, that's fine."
Your head football coach isn't worried about a pay raise, he wants to make sure his staff is better compensated and that his facilities improve. I love you Jerry. I love you.
A big part of Minnesota's victory over Penn State was thanks to an incredible day on third and fourth down on both sides of the ball. The offense converted 9-17 third downs (53%) and all three fourth down attempts while the defense held Penn State to just 1-9 on third down and 1-3 on fourth down. Per Marcus Fuller, third down conversions have been a big part of Minnesota's winning streak:
Against Iowa and Michigan, Minnesota's defense allowed opponents to convert 55 percent of their third-down situations. During their four-game winning streak against Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State, that number has dropped to 31 percent.
Jerry Palm of CBSSports has Minnesota in the Texas Bowl vs K-State, SB Nation has the Gophers in the Gator bowl vs Ole Miss, from E!SPN Brad Edwards says Buffalo Wild Wings vs Oklahoma, Mark Schlabach projects Gator Bowl vs LSU (um, I'll pass on that matchup thanks) while the B1G blog says Texas Bowl.
Speaking of the B1G blog guys, Minnesota now sits FOURTH in their weekly B1G Power Rankings:
4. Minnesota (8-2, 4-2; last week: 6): What looked like a lost season for Minnesota in early October has turned into a special one. The Gophers have won four consecutive Big Ten games for the first time in 40 years. David Cobb continues to spark the power run game, and the defense limited Penn State to 10 points on Saturday. This isn't just a team using its coach's health situation for motivation. Minnesota is legit and could be a serious factor in the Legends race.
As much as I want to believe that last sentence, I'm just not sure I can yet. But then again who thought the Gophers would have eight wins already? David Cobb also picked up a helmet sticker for his fourth straight 100 yard rushing performance vs Penn State, rushing 27 times for 139 yards and another TD. He's currently fifth in the B1G in rushing yards with 942 yards at an average of 94.2 yards per game with an outside shot at being named second team all-conference. Working against him is that the four players ahead of him in yards all have played one less game, have a better yards per carry AND have as many or more TD's. But Cobb's presence and impact on Minnesota's incredible season has been more than just numbers, and I'm guessing that factors into the final voting.
Could E!SPN College Game Day REALLY come to Minnesota in two weeks for the Gophers vs BADgers? It's an outside possibility at best. For that to happen, the Gophers need Baylor and/or Oklahoma State to lose this week, as IF the two win it would set up a likely matchup of top 10 teams in a game that could decide a conference title. Baylor, currently 5th in the BCS standings hosts Texas Tech while #12 Okie State is at #24 Texas. As of now the Baylor/OSU game is the prohibitive favorite to host the Game Day crew. The only other contender is Texas A&M at LSU, but my feeling is despite playing incredible football the Johnny Football story is old news with people, and with Alabama beating both of these teams, neither has a shot at a division crown. The Minnesota vs Wisconsin narrative would seem to be much more interesting than the Aggies and Tigers, but then again the S! E! C! still draws a lot of eye-balls.
Last Gopher football thought- could the Gophers be ranked next week vs Wisconsin? Keep an eye on the teams around them in the AP Poll (the one they're not currently ranked in) which includes #25 Georgia (@ #7 Auburn), #24 (and reeling) Miami (@ 7-2 Duke), aforementioned #23 Texas (vs #12 Okie State), #22 Oklahoma (vs Iowa State), and #21 Arizona State (vs Oregon State). Also Ole Miss, who is not ranked but got more votes than Minnesota hosts Troy while Nebraska, who sits behind Minnesota, plays
Indiana Michigan State.
Gopher hoops won their season opener against Lehigh 81-62 on Friday night. Amelia Rayno talks about what life without Mo Walker looks like as the forward has been suspended six games for "violating university policy".
Freshman Hudson Fasching propelled Gopher Hockey to a 5-4 win over Notre Dame Saturday night to earn a split with the Irish. Freshmen led the way as Fasching had two goals, Taylor Cammarata had a goal and two assists, and defenseman Jake Bischoff ended up with the game-winner. USCHO looks at three things learned about four B1G teams including the Gophers.
Another weekend, another two victories for Gopher Women's Hockey as they topped Jan Brady State 4-3 Saturday night. Just to make it interesting, the defending national champs actually trailed late in the game but scored two goals in the final 2:02 to run their unbeaten streak to an unbelievable 61 games. Head coach Brad Frost was proud of his teams' effort:
"I'm so proud of our team and the way they battled and competed and found a way to tie that score on a great deflection by Cameranesi. Then, to win it in regulation on just a high-level play from Milica was an incredible way to come back and win."
Well done, ladies. Well done.