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Overheard at the ‘Gate - Week 1

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Baker Mayfield comparisons, the essence of Nebraska fandom and new slang.

New Mexico State v Minnesota
It’s football season.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

A weekly series dedicated to tracking the pulse of the fan, rightly or wrongly. Quotes included here are not necessarily an endorsement of the thought.

I’m a college football rube, and I’m happy to admit it. I love going to games, but I’ll never be the guy who can proactively identify if the offense is running a zone blocking scheme, or the merits of using a 46 defensive front instead of a 4-3. I generally couch my football acumen as somewhere on the spectrum of knowing the difference between a dime and nickel defense.

But that’s why I’m here as a rube representative. Not to break down the Xs and Os of the game, but to better report on what people are talking about. Because oftentimes that’s just as interesting, if not completely off base.

Thursday night Gopher football openers are maybe the most anticipated night on my calendar. It’s warm, it’s nighttime, and I always take the Friday after off of work to build out that four-day Labor Day weekend. It’s also the best chance to hear wild expectations for the year, commiserate about past brutalities and share in the freshness of a new, untarnished season.

“I’m worried the Gophers won’t score a touchdown. Don’t @ me.”

The first thing I heard at the tailgate, which isn’t surprising considering that we’re running out a true freshman walk-on. While we can’t go 10 minutes without being reminded that Baker Mayfield was also a freshman walk-on, it’s in our DNA to truly expect wonder if the Gopher version of a freshman walk-on will wilt under the bright lights of Big Ten football or, at the very least, put some points on the scoreboard. This is how we’re conditioned to think.

“They did that Nebraska fan thing where they have to be nice to you, even after a beatdown, but it’s really an underhanded compliment. Like, ‘congrats on the win, you guys really needed that one.’”

No opening tailgate is complete without a walkthrough of last year’s schedule and results. I’ll be honest, I don’t quite remember all of the details of the Nebraska thrashing (I blacked out almost the entirety of last season), but in discussing some of the successes of last year, the football worldview unique to Nebraska and their self-image is fascinating.

Dude, those donuts at the Fair are so flame.
Wait, ‘flame’?
Yeah, that’s what the kids say, I think.

I can honestly say I’ve never heard of something referred to as “so flame”, but here we are. This better not be a thing.

“Re-kick? Are you trying to kill these student athletes?!”

I think the new fair catch kickoff rule threw us all through a loop the first time it was utilized on Thursday, and the onus on improving player safety was evident. Which is why it was so strange that on more than one occasion the referees had the entire kickoff replayed when there were offsetting penalties. I haven’t the slightest idea if this is new or not, but it seems a little backwards to want to reduce the amount of kick returns that are happening while running both teams back out there to redo kicks more than once. That’s how people get hurt, man.

“So are we calling this the Gophercat or the Wildgopher?”

Seth Green, everybody! That was fun, and holy cow is that guy huge now. But if this Green-centered version of the Wildcat is truly a weapon we’ll utilize going forward, we’re going to need a Minnesota-specific name. Gophercat sounds like the name of a Pokemon that fell to the cutting room floor, but it rolls off the tongue better than Wildgopher. Stay tuned on this one, unless you have suggestions.

“Where is everyone going? I get it’s a blowout, but when you’re the Gophers this game can’t be “boring.” This is like being 12 years old and having four Christmases in a row.”

The fourth quarter exodus was comprehensive and immediate. It’s almost like everyone gets to a certain boredom threshold in a blowout victory and decides that they’ve had enough winning. We gotta enjoy this while we can, folks. The feeling of victory is fleeting.

“Well, I’d say IMG Academy was worth it.”

Annexstad looked poised and under control, and passed the eye test when it comes to a true freshman QB’s inaugural performance. We’ll revisit this quote in a few weeks, but that pretty much captures the sentiment we had at the conclusion of a 38-point drubbing.