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Minnesota Football: Hall Of Fame Classic 1977 #TBT

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The Gophers and Terrapins have faced off exactly once before, in the first ever Hall of Fame Bowl Game in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Hall of Fame Classic, 1977

First things first. There is a fair amount of Hall of Fame Classic Bowl Game memorabilia on the internet.

All solid purchases, if you are really into the history of Maryland vs Minnesota.

Bowl Game program

Since the game didn’t exactly go the Gophers way (Minnesota lost 17-7), I’m going to focus instead on this being the first Minnesota bowl game since the 1962 Rose Bowl. Specifically a short story about how provincial the 1977 Minnesota team was.

From The Daily Journal (Fergus Falls) December 22, 1977:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — If Minnesota's Golden Gophers adapt to Maryland's football team as quickly as they did to grits, the Terrapins will have their hands full, the first Hall of Fame Classic. tonight.

"When they came in, Sunday, they didn't know about grits," said Mrs. Matte Lavender, who serves meals at the team hotel. “I told them. They came back three or four times. They must have eaten four gallons."

Nevertheless, Coach Jerry Claiborne's Maryland is a touchdown favorite over the grit-fed Gophers in the 7 p.m. CST, game.

Both teams carry. 7-4 records into the game, which marks Maryland's 5th straight post-season bowl, but the first for Minnesota since 1962.

“That’s something Maryland has going for It," Coach Cal Stoll of Minnesota said, "For many of their players, it will be the third or fourth post-season game. But I think we have enough leadership on this team that they'll know how to handle it.''

Coach Cal Stoll, 1974
U of M

Later on in the article it would talk about Cal Stoll having his contract extended for 3 more years. Hilariously Coach Stoll would be fired the next year. The Gophers would not make it to another bowl game for 8 years, the 1985 Independence Bowl.

So I guess the good news is that the players got to experience grits. Hopefully Minnesota can make that Hall of Fame Classic memorabilia worth more by really starting a Big Ten rivalry this weekend.