Big Ten football is back, but we are forging ahead with our quest to build a perfect season of Minnesota Golden Gophers football over 13 weeks, inviting readers to choose from three nominees for each week of the season dating back to 2000. For example, with this being Week 11, I have selected the three “best” — and the specific criteria for “best” is going to vary week to week, depending on what I have to work with — Week 11 games from the last 20 seasons.
Our selections so far:
Week 1: ‘16 vs Oregon State
Week 2: ‘19 vs Fresno State
Week 3: ‘19 vs Georgia Southern
Week 4: ‘05 vs Purdue
Week 5: ‘14 vs Michigan
Week 6 (Bye Week): ‘05 vs Michigan
Week 7: ‘00 vs Ohio State
Week 8: ‘14 vs Purdue
Week 9: ‘13 vs Nebraska
Week 10: ‘13 vs Indiana
And here are our nominees for Week 11.
Nominee #1: ‘03 vs Wisconsin
Before Minnesota snapped their 14-game losing streak to Wisconsin 2018, the Gophers last clutched Paul Bunyan’s Axe on Nov. 8, 2003. And it was a wild game.
Minnesota opened up a 10-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a 31-yard rushing touchdown from Laurence Maroney and a 34-yard field goal courtesy of Rhys Lloyd. Wisconsin added a couple field goals, but the Gophers were able to extend their lead to 24-6 with a pair of rushing touchdowns in the second quarter. The Badgers finally found the end zone with two minutes to spare in the first half thanks to a 27-yard touchdown pass from Jim Sorgi to Owen Daniels.
Coming out of the locker room at halftime, Sorgi picked up where he left off, throwing two more touchdowns to outscore Minnesota 14-3 in the third quarter and knot the score at 27-27 entering the final frame. The Gophers responded with a Marion Barber III touchdown run, but Wisconsin countered with his fourth passing touchdown of the game. After the two teams traded punts, backup quarterback Benji Kamrath teamed up with Barber and Maroney to drive down to the Wisconsin 19 with a second left on the clock in regulation.
Before sending Rhys Lloyd out to kick the game winner, head coach Glen Mason told him, “Don’t forget to get the Axe.” And after nailing the 35-yard field goal, Lloyd did exactly that.
Nominee #2: ‘14 vs Iowa
Following a letdown loss to Illinois on the road the previous week, the 2014 Gophers came out and looked flat on the opening drive against Iowa. The Hawkeyes marched 76 yards on 12 plays, converting three third downs before capping the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Then Minnesota proceeded to score 51 unanswered points. K.J. Maye scored on a nine-yard rush to tie the game in the first quarter, before Mitch Leidner connected with Donovahn Jones on a 44-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to take the lead. Before long, it became the Maxx Williams show. The Gophers’ tight end caught five receptions for 46 yards, and three of those catches were for touchdowns. But his most memorable catch was a full-extension grab near the sideline before halftime that was initially ruled incomplete, before a replay review revealed that he dragged his left toe in bounds to complete the catch.
Nominee #3: ‘19 vs Penn State
I suspect no one reading this needs me to recap this game.
Those are your nominees, whether you like them or not. Make your pick below and we’ll declare a Week 11 winner next week when we announce the nominees for Week 12!
Which Week 11 game is your pick for the 2020 Perfect Season?
This poll is closed
‘03 vs Wisconsin
‘14 vs Iowa
‘19 vs Penn State