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Minnesota Football vs Illinois: The Elite, The Meh, and The Ugly


NCAA Football: Minnesota at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Welp. Shall we get started?

The Elite

Rashod Bateman. Seven receptions, 175 receiving yards, and two touchdowns for the true freshman wide receiver. What a performance. I just wish it had come in a game that Gophers won’t spend years trying to repress from their memory. Bateman’s future is certainly bright.

Mohamed Ibrahim. Even with the injuries to Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks, the redshirt freshman is giving us plenty of reasons to be bullish about the Gophers’ stable of running backs. Ibrahim rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday.

The football team’s social media manager. Imagine being the person who, at the end of each quarter, has to update the graphic with the new score and post simultaneously to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, knowing full well that a volcano of vitriol will inevitably erupt in the comments and replies. I salute you, Gopher Football Social Media Manager.

Colby and Jenny Campbell. I moved to Chicago less than six months ago, so of course it occurred to me that the Gopher football team would be in close proximity when they played on the road against Illinois this season. I checked the date before I started making any plans and realized I would not be able to attend the game due to a friend’s wedding for which I had been asked to serve as a groomsman. The scheduling conflict turned out to be fortuitous, obviously. Instead of having to endure an utterly humiliating defeat at the hands of the Fighting Illini live and in person, I was able to celebrate a beautiful wedding with some of my closest friends. Bullet dodged. And congratulations again to Mr. and Mrs. Campbell!

The Meh

I’ll leave this section open for nominations from our readers in the comments, since I didn’t get to see much of the game — thank you, God — and it is admittedly difficult to look at ILLINOIS 55, MINNESOTA 31 and think anything from that horrific result was “meh.”

The Ugly

Robb Smith’s defense. I’m not going to dance on his grave, but Robb Smith’s continued employment at the University of Minnesota was untenable and I applaud head coach P.J. Fleck for recognizing that and acting accordingly, as difficult as it may have been to have that conversation. I’m not hopeful it’ll get much better under interim defensive coordinator Joe Rossi with three games left in the season, but I look forward to seeing who Fleck brings in as a permanent replacement. He effectively gambled his first two seasons at Minnesota on Smith’s dubious track record as a defensive coordinator and lost that bet in catastrophic fashion, so this will be an important hire. There is plenty of talent on this defense. All the Gophers need is someone competent enough to know how to effectively utilize it.

Turnovers. I have a request: Can someone please create a meme of Bart Simpson writing, “The ball is the program,” over and over on the chalkboard? Whomever steps up and produces this will get a shoutout in next week’s The Elite, The Meh, and The Ugly.