The streak is over, and Paul Bunyan’s Axe is back where it belongs.
We now take you live to The Daily Gopher staff lounge, where gopherguy05 is doing his best Rod Farva impression, spraying beer and champagne as far and as wide as he can.
What is your Tweet-length (
140 280 characters or less) summary of the Gophers’ 37-15 victory over Wisconsin?
gopherguy05: All the good GIFs are being used so... AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
IowaGopher: Not today, Bucky!
mowe0018: I feel as if I’m Red strolling up the beach of Zihuatanejo, embracing Andy in front of a blue ocean. Except instead of Andy, it’s an Axe.
To borrow a Fleck-ism, who is your pick for “Nekton of the Week” from the game?
gopherguy05: Demetrius Douglas. That punt return was absolutely huge, and even though Wisconsin did score right before halftime, it was one of the biggest daggers in the Badgers’ chances.
zipsofakron: Never thought I’d say it, but Tanner Morgan. Did just enough to keep things moving and never committed a turnover.
IowaGopher: Mohamed Ibrahim. In my opponent preview leading up to the game, I said that Minnesota would need to establish the running game against Wisconsin to have a chance. The Gophers did exactly that behind the tough running of Ibrahim, who was fighting for extra yardage all game long. Look no further than that nine-minute drive in the fourth quarter, during which Ibrahim accounted for 31 of their 55 yards.
mowe0018: Ibrahim kept churning out three or four yards and kept the clock ticking in the second half. I’ll go with him but it truly felt like a team effort.
wildcat00: I know this isn’t in the spirit of the question, but whatever, we won The Axe and I get to do whatever I want. In my view, Alex Hornibrook did plenty to deserve the nod here, including completing three key passes to Minnesota players. We should let him have this one.
At what point during the game did your brain start to accept that the Axe was coming back to Minnesota?
gopherguy05: When GoAUpher started our sprint (ok, my stumble) down from the jet stream of the upper deck to the front row, directly adjacent to the Minnesota tunnel, to get ready for the party.
zipsofakron: Wisconsin’s fumble after the missed fourth quarter field goal. Too much has gone wrong after missed attempts like that in this series.
IowaGopher: The strip sack in the fourth quarter. My heart sank after the Badger touchdown to end the first half, and then it fully retreated into my stomach after Emmit Carpenter missed his field goal attempt after a nine-minute drive. Those “Here we go again...” thoughts started creeping in before Thomas Barber came up with that fumble.
Ustreet: The start of the fourth quarter, but my heart didn’t accept it until the kneel down.
mowe0018: Halftime. I will admit, I’ve thought it was coming back before in years’ past but the eternal optimist in me was strong on Saturday for some reason. Plus I predicted a 6-6 season, so I knew it was written in the stars...
wildcat00: Honestly, I was determined not to even think about it until the final kneel-down. I pretty much held my breath through the final few minutes of the fourth quarter and only let it out after the final whistle.
Was there anything more “Minnesota” about this game than a back-breaking nine-minute drive that produced no points?
gopherguy05: I don’t know if you have the proper definition of “Minnesota” here...
zipsofakron: A true “Minnesota” finish would have been to let that missed field goal result in an immediate touchdown for the opponent and result in a historical loss.
IowaGopher: I agree a true “Minnesota” game would have been a complete fourth quarter meltdown, but part of what made it such a cathartic game was that the Gophers committed a couple classic “Minnesota” moves — allowing the quick touchdown before the half or missing the field goal that would have put the game out of reach — yet were able to overcome them and hold on for a victory, helping exorcise some of those demons.
Ustreet: Our questioner is slipping dangerously into critical territory here. Also no, a truly “Minnesota” performance would have had them fumble at the end of that drive.
mowe0018: I don’t think that kind of grinding drive fits our new offensive identity at all. The missed field goal seemed like an aberration in the midst of otherwise very fundamentally sound play. So I guess not?
wildcat00: There was nothing “Minnesota” about this game at all. Giving up a three-score lead in the fourth quarter or maybe having a punt blocked in the end zone to grab defeat from the jaws of victory would be much more Minnesota than just taking your rival to the woodshed like the Gophers did here.
How do you feel about P.J. Fleck removing the interim tag from defensive coordinator Joe Rossi?
gopherguy05: He deserves it. Will people bitch if he gets off to a slow start in 2019? You bet they will. But with the defense’s performance in the last three games, I certainly won’t argue against it.
zipsofakron: I like promoting from within from a continuity standpoint. And do you really want a free agent DC who was either let go by his previous program or is still in show-and-prove mode? We need continuity in the worst way right now and Rossi’s three-game performance has been excellent.
IowaGopher: I mean, he nailed the audition. The difference on that side of the ball these last three games has been night and day compared to the disastrous results under his predecessor. I was expecting P.J. Fleck to at least interview a couple candidates from outside the program before making a decision, but I can’t blame him for thinking the perfect choice is right in front of him. I look forward to seeing what Rossi can do with a permanent title and a full season of calling plays.
Ustreet: Fine. On the one hand, I would have liked them to delve into the market and grab a really good up and coming DC. On the other hand, if you like what you have in house, keeping them in house means that your DC gets to go recruiting right now. That matters in the final push for the class. Further, Rossi had a heck of a trial period, so it’s not just a “well that dude is here” situation.
mowe0018: Hard to argue against the decision for the time being. But selecting coordinators is generally a fickle endeavor. Only time will tell.
wildcat00: If the last few games were intended to be his audition, then he passed with flying colors and absolutely deserves to get the job on a permanent basis. Is the defense perfect? No. Is it generally serviceable and capable of keeping Minnesota in the game against most Big Ten teams? Yes. That works for me.
Not to get too serious, but what did this game mean to you? It was clearly an emotional night for a lot of Gopher fans.
gopherguy05: One of the largest euphoric releases in my life. I knew this day would eventually come, but I sure as hell didn’t think it was going to be Saturday. GoAUpher and I missed touching the Axe itself by mere inches... But I think we will both take Ibrahim’s game gloves as a very strong consolation prize.
zipsofakron: Emotional release aside, the program no longer has this hanging over its head, so that at least takes some of the ammo away from the many detractors. If nothing else, it buys Fleck some breathing room to show that he is truly taking this program in the right direction.
IowaGopher: To be honest, I hate Iowa more than I hate Wisconsin, which I think puts me in the minority among Gopher fans. But I loathe the Badgers and have hated the fact that they’ve been able to hold this streak over our heads for more than a decade. It needed to end. This win will certainly endear Fleck to a lot of fans who were growing impatient, and it has all the makings of a signature win that could help the program turn a corner.
Ustreet: I was at the last game they won prior (2003). I’m happy for the players and coaches, who have had a topsy turvy season this year. I’m long on this coaching staff, so getting the signature win is great for building. For me personally, this was a bit like seeing England win a World Cup match on penalties. It had to happen for the team to take the next step.
mowe0018: It means a lot. My eldest sister went to Wisconsin. I went to the game in Madison in 2008 and Badger fans chanted “Golden showers” at my friend and me on State Street that night. I’ve wanted to see the maroon and gold hold the Axe ever since I got accepted to the U. It was a thing of beauty. I was sad I didn’t get to share the experience with any other Gopher fans in person but I’m so glad the wait for the Axe is finally over. I do want to see the trophy case full though now...
wildcat00: I am not ashamed to admit that I cried when it was over. I was in the stands in 2003 for Rhys Lloyd’s game-winning field goal, and also in the stands for every home loss to Wisconsin since then. The program needed this SO badly, and I’m ecstatic for the players, the staff, and for the long-suffering fans — including an entire generation of fans who have never witnessed Minnesota win the Axe before.