It's Monday morning, and I STILL feel this way about Minnesota's 42-39 victory over Indiana! The win already gave the Gophers an improvement over last season's win total of six, and with three games remaining (home Penn State & Wisconsin, @ Michigan State to close the regular season) per Joe C of the Strib at least one more victory would hit some big milestones for this program:
• It would be the first eight-win season since they went 10-3 in 2003 under Glen Mason.
• It would be their first time with four Big Ten victories since they went 4-4 under Mason in 2005.
• It would give them four consecutive Big Ten victories for the first time since 1973 under Cal Stoll.
I knew the first two stats, but that third one is the one I had wondered about: Minnesota hasn't won four straight B1G games in FORTY YEARS. Wow. It's been even longer since the Gophers have played in a New Year's Day or "significant" bowl, going all the way back to the 1962 Rose Bowl. As Marcus Fuller of the PP writes, ending that drought this season has become a realistic possibility. The E!SPN B1G guys have Minnesota in the Texas Bowl in the sixth B1G bowl slot, and this is a good reminder that after the Rose Bowl, it's based on choice, not necessarily record. CBSsports.com's Jerry Palm has Minnesota in the Gator Bowl, which gets the fourth CHOICE of B1G teams, and while I would LOVE this to happen, you're going to be asking a bowl to choose the Gophers over some of the massive traveling hoardes of schools like Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. We can break down our chances another time, but the hope here is that Minnesota being such a great story this season will trump our usual low turnout for bowl games, or at least compared to the proven hoards of some of our conference brethren.
In about the only negative news from the weekend, Kill confirmed that starting center Jon Christenson is out for the season with a significant left leg injury. Kill wouldn't say it's a broken leg, but judging by how the leg was being treated when he was carted off the field, it's a broken leg. I Feel bad for Jon, a former walk-on from Minnetonka, who had started every game this season and was playing well. Kill said junior Tommy Olson, who has been the back-up center all season and replaced Christenson against Indiana, will start Saturday. The question for me was the back-up, and at least for the Penn State game it'll be starting LG Zac Epping. Remember last season when Minnesota had to start three different centers during the season? Let's hope we don't have to go down that road again, but at least we know there's some experience on the roster playing center. I'm wondering now who else will step in after Olson on the depth chart, and perhaps we'll get to see redshirt freshman Isaac Shaft Hayes. Maybe?
Despite said 3 game B1G winning streak, the Gophers still aren't ranked in the top 25 in either poll, but now sit 32nd in the BCS standings, sandwiched right in between Michigan (31) and Nebraska (33).