Saturday, September 12th, 2009.
Ten years ago today the Minnesota Gophers took the field against Air Force at the brand new TCF Bank Stadium. It was picturesque (beautiful sunset) but not perfect (mistimed flyover). But it didn’t need to be error free to be beautiful. It was a night Gopher fans had been waiting and hoping on for years, some would argue from the moment they were pushed into the soulless cavern of the Metrodome.
To celebrate this anniversary, members of the TDG staff put together thoughts and memories of their experiences at The Bank. As you read on, think of some memories of your own to share in the comments!
Favorite memory from/about/of TCF Bank Stadium?
Blake Ruane: This is going to sound strange, but my favorite memory from TCF Bank Stadium is the Gophers’ near-collapse against Rutgers in 2016. The Scarlet Knights had been historically inept in head coach Chris Ash’s debut season, scoring a combined total of 14 points in four conference games up to that point. This should’ve been a walk in the park for Minnesota, and the first quarter followed that script, as the Gophers opened up a 21-3 lead. Then Rutgers led an 11-play touchdown drive in which they converted three third downs, narrowing the score to 21-10. When the Gophers’ next drive stalled in the red zone and kicker Emmit Carpenter missed a chip shot field goal, I laughed and turned to my dad. “They’re going to blow this.” Sure enough, after a muffed Drew Wolitarsky punt return late in the fourth quarter, the Scarlet Knights took the lead, 32-31, with four minutes left in the game. All we could do was laugh. Like a man experiencing a psychotic break from reality, I started cackling and said to my dad, “We’re about to witness what might be the worst loss in school history!” (forgive the hyperbole) I was elated. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Minnesota won on a last-second field goal, averting disaster. But I’ll always remember that as the game where I finally decided I wasn’t going to let this miserable team ruin the experience for me and embraced the bad.
GoAUpher: Getting to tour the stadium before it was built with gg05. Getting behind the scenes like that when I gobbling up every bit of news, every new image of the construction, it was perfect.
gopherguy05: My favorite memory would have to be Halloween 2009. The Gophers beat Michigan State after a game that had insane twists and turns. Other than the Nate Tripplet fumble recovery TD vs Air Force in the opener I don’t know If I have ever heard it louder than all of the Minnesota fans just booing the crap out of the referees in the third and fourth quarter after several very questionable calls. Add in Adam Weber outplaying Kirk Cousins and the immaculate reception-like td catch of Duane Bennett off of Nick Tow-Arnett and it was a great night.
Gopher Nation: My favorite memory at TCF Bank Stadium is easily the 2010 win over Iowa. Tim Brewster had recently been let go, giving Jeff Horton a chance to be the interim coach. The Gophers had not scored a single point against Iowa in 2008 or 2009 and this was sure to be another loss to end a disastrous season. But instead Horton’s version of the 2010 team played with some passion, took some chances and even scored a TD late in the 4th quarter to re-take the lead. The win was great but the best part was walking down on to the sidelines for the last 4 minutes of the game, standing directly behind Floyd of Rosedale. Security moved Floyd a few yards, I scooted right along with it and was planted right behind it. The Gophers stormed the Iowa sidelines, fans stormed the field and the band played the Rouser over and over. It was fantastic.
mowe0018: Has to be the beat down of the Hawkeyes in 2014. In my post college life, I have to drive up 8.5 hours to get my in-person TCF Bank Stadium fix on and the trips are becoming fewer and farther between each other. When one of said trips crescendoed into an absolute throttling of Iowa, it seemed as if all was right in the world. I specifically remember that immediately after Maxx toedragged to infinity, one of the friends I was with at the game immediately exclaimed, “He was in! He was in!” I waved off what I thought to be his unbridled and slightly misplaced enthusasim. Lo’ and behold as the review shown on the Jumbotron, he was right. Great game during an enjoyable season and seeing a trophy on the backs’ of maroon and gold is always a plus.
UStreet: Storming the field after the win against Iowa and touching Floyd.
wildcat00: That 2010 win over Iowa, with Jeff Horton as interim head coach, is probably my favorite memory of TCF Bank Stadium. That late TD in the fourth quarter energized the crowd (such as it was), and staying after the game to celebrate was just an awesome fan experience. It also felt like the start of something new and refreshing, although I don’t know if that promise has been fulfilled even in part.
What did your first game in TCF mean to you?
Blake Ruane: My first game at TCF Bank Stadium was the final game of Jerry Kill’s head coaching career. This was back in 2015, the season when it was all supposed to come together for Kill and co. Quite the opposite. After a close loss to TCU to open the season, the Gophers followed with three uninspiring nonconference wins before being shut out on the road against Northwestern. A blowout victory over Purdue and a miserable 2-4 start to the season for Nebraska seemed to suggest a third consecutive win over the Nebraska was in the cards for Minnesota. No such luck. When Terrell Newby tied the game at 7-7 in the first quarter with a 69-yard touchdown drive, I knew the Gophers were in trouble. Nebraska scored on all but one offensive possession in the first half. It appropriately ended with a Mitch Leidner pick six for a final score of 48-25. I was not happy. Just a few days later, Kill stepped down. Good times!
GoAUpher: Pure excitement. I think it is best summed up by his moment, right here. Thank you Nate Triplett for making the opening of TCF a memorable one.
gopherguy05: It was Air Force. The crowd was electric that night, and if you don’t get chills thinking about Tripplet running his fumble recovery into the end zone I don’t think you can call yourself a real Gopher fan.
Gopher Nation: I was there for game one against Air Force. It was the first time I had experienced an electic atmosphere for Gopher football. The Rouser gave me chills, the weatehr was perfect and it was good to be a Gopher fan.
mowe0018: It was the Air Force game and to me it meant a very memorable college Saturday. I was in undergrad at the time and my friends and I waited in line for around three hours or so outside the student entrance to get as good of seats as possible. This involved getting to hear “rousing” speeches from the likes of Timmy Brew himself and former AD Joel Maturi. Both promised Rose Bowls (oops). We were young and naive and we believed them but even these used car salesmen couldn’t spoil the night. The weather was outstanding, the crowd electric, and the game a victory. I’ll never forget the scene post-Triplett fumble recovery touchdown. Afterwards, we hosted a post-game gathering. Typical college mayhem ensued. It was an excellent night.
UStreet: I was there for game one against Air Force. Right before Triplett picked up the AF fumble for the winning touchdown, my friend turned to me and with a look of deadly serious said “They’re going to get a fumble recovery here for a touchdown.” When it happened, everyone besides us was going ballistic and we were shell shocked.
wildcat00: I was at the Air Force game. Everything about that game was perfect, but especially the atmosphere. It made Gopher football seem like it could actually be a good time, a vast improvement over games at the Dome.
Best game you saw in TCF?
Blake Ruane: The best game I’ve seen at TCF Bank Stadium was the lone season opener (against Oregon State) of the short-lived Tracy Claeys era. There was a lot of bad -- three targeting penalties against the Gophers, one of Drew Wolitarsky’s trademark muffed punt returns, a blown lead in the third quarter, two snaps over the head of Mitch Leidner -- but there was also quite a bit of good -- the bone-crunching sacks of Tai’yon Devers, Rodney Smith’s spin move for a touchdown, two defensive stands to seal the game in the fourth quarter. It was a nerve-wracking game, thanks largely to a lot of unforced errors by Minnesota, but it was certainly an entertaining one and, best of all, the Gophers came out on top in the end.
GoAUpher: Any one of the wins over Iowa. I’m having a hard time deciding. I’d say Nebby 2013 but uh...I didn’t see a lot of that as gg05 and WSR can attest.
gopherguy05: My best probably is 2010 Iowa. From the onside kick to the Gray TD and his willing them to win to get a few key first downs on the ground, to the final key fumble recovery, it was a great time. The fact that I had to tell GoAUpher the details via cell phone while he was at an Ohio outlet mall with no access to the game also makes it priceless and reminds us how far the internet/streaming has come in just eight short years.
Gopher Nation: The 2013 win over Nebraska was one of my favorite games at TCF Bank Stadium. The Huskers had not lost to the Gophers since 1960 and came in ranked to this game against an improving by mediocre Gopher squad. Nebraska easily scores on it’s first two possessions to go up 10-0 and things appeared like it was going to get out of hand quickly. But then the Gophers just whooped Nebraska’s ass. David Cobb ran for 144 yards, Philip Nelson threw for 152 while rushing in for 2 of his own and the Gophers came back from down 10 to be up 14 by the end of the third quarter.
I’ve enjoyed the USC game, the TCU game and the Michigan game Claeys should have won. But that Nebraska game was a fun one. Dominating what was a good team who went on to beat some good teams that year.
mowe0018: I’m not sure how to answer this one but I also don’t want to repeat what the other writers have already said, so I’ll go with a game I thought was exciting and closely contested but ended in misery: Wisconsin in 2009. In a season that will eventually only be remembered for it being the first season back on campus for the Golden Gophers, the second conference game of the season was for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. The game had many twists and turns, and unlike in some other recent editions, Minnesota never looked overmatched. Despite a heroic effort by Eric Decker and a opportunistic defense, they came up short against the hated Badgers once again. There may or may not be a picture on the Facebook somewhere of me and a roommate of mine looking like the epitome of melancholy with empty bleachers surrounding us in a post-defeat haze.
UStreet: Michigan State under the lights. The atmosphere was ballistic, and the game was fantastic from the get go.
wildcat00: The 2015 Michigan game—on Halloween night—was unforgettable (for good and bad reasons). It was the first game after Jerry Kill stepped down, and when Mitch Leidner ran the Jerrysota flag out on to the field, the crowd just erupted. I have never witnessed that much energy at The Bank before (or since). Of course, the way the game ended definitely put a damper on everything, but up until the last 19 seconds, it was the best Minnesota game I’d ever watched.