Chances like this don’t come around too often… And by too often, I mean almost never. My father is an alum of the University of Minnesota. In his lifetime, the Gophers Football team has reached double digit wins one time. The highest they have ever been ranked in his lifetime was 13th, done this year and in 2016. They have only ever been ranked in the preseason top 25 one single time.
This 2019 season for the Gophers has been something completely special for Minnesota. They are currently ranked 13th, which is the highest they have been ranked since they were ranked 12th in 1999, just twenty seasons ago.
Minnesota is 5-0 in the Big 10 for the first time since 1961. Even more impressively, they find themselves with an 8-0 record overall for the first time since 1941, when they were number one in the country. The Maroon and Gold have won 10 straight games which is good for the third longest current winning streak in the country.
The Gophers have scored 28 or more points in the first eight games for the first time since 1904. Yes, that was four years before the Model-T was invented.
This season has been unlike any other that any Gopher fan alive can remember. The hype is real. The talent is real. The hope is real.
The season started out pretty shakey. The Gophers squeaked by non-conference opponents South Dakota State, Fresno State and Georgia Southern by a combined 13 points. If a few plays like a timely fumble by SDSU or a converted 4th down against Fresno State don’t occur, Minnesota easily could’ve gone 0-3 to start the season.
But they didn’t. They found a way to win.
Since the beginning of Big 10 play, the Gophers have completely flipped a switch. The lowest output of scoring so far has been 34 points and Minnesota currently has a point differential of 206 to 72 in Big 10 games. This kind of domination hasn’t been seen here essentially as long as I have been alive.
This week marks a turn in the schedule. The Gophers have one of the most difficult remaining schedules as they have to face off with: (5) Penn State, @ (18) Iowa, @ Northwestern and (16) Wisconsin. However, the Gophers are in the driver’s seat in the Big 10 West as they find themselves with a two-game buffer over both Iowa and Wisconsin.
This week will not be easy to say the least. Penn State presents a challenge that the Gophers simply haven’t faced this season. Penn State is favored by 7 points. But just last year, the spread probably would have been at least 20 points.
For the first time that I can remember, the Gophers have a chance. They might not be the favorite. The game might be an uphill battle. But Minnesota is capable of winning the game.
Minnesota ranks 47th in the country in yards per game at 429.5. Penn State ranks 52nd at 422.1. Penn State boasts the 9th best defense in the country giving up 280 yards per game. Minnesota comes in at 13th with 283.8 yards per game. These are two pretty even teams which is simply a crazy thought to type out.
Head Coach PJ Fleck has worked his magic in his time in Minnesota and he has been rewarded handsomely. Just this week, Fleck signed a 7 year extension tying him to Minnesota through 2026.
To some fans, his antics might rub you the wrong way and you might think he is selfish or egotistical. What you can’t argue is that he gets results. You can’t argue that the kids don’t want to play for him because they certainly do. You can’t argue that he hasn’t been able to build a winning culture in a place where winning is often a pipedream.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers Football team is going places. A signature win at home against number five in the country Penn State is the stamp needed to show the nation that they are serious. It won’t be an easy game, but I like their chances for the first time in my life. Row the Boat, Ski-U-Mah and Go Gophers.