Defensive back Tom Sakal missed being an All-Big Ten unanimous player by one vote after the 1967 season. A regular player for 3 seasons from 1965 to 1967, his 12 career interceptions led the team each year he suited up for the Gophers. The 6 foot 195 pound back from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania was pivotal during the 1967 season.
After a comeback 20-15 victory over Michigan on October 28th, Sakal told reporters, “We took Michigan too lightly to be frank... We didn’t expect them to be nearly that tough...”
Sakal, wearing number 11, injured his knee in Minnesota’s only Big Ten loss in 1967, and was questionable coming into the penultimate game of the season against Indiana. The Hoosiers were ranked number 5 in the country before the November 18th clash. If you want to read about that upset holler at my post from this summer. Sakal played hurt and made 6 tackles, several of them pivotal to winning the game.
Sakal would later say, “Mark my word... we’re going for roses now, and there isn’t any sense trying to cover it up.” Minnesota would end up in a 3 way tie for first place and wouldn’t make it to the Rose Bowl in 1967 but would end the year by beating Wisconsin. If you want to watch the 1967 Axe game, you can at the Memorial Stadium page from the University Library.