On Saturday the Minnesota Golden Gophers had an excellent chance to beat Wisconsin in Madison and bring home the Axe for the first time in five years. In fact at half-time the Gophers took a 21-7 lead and looked to have a lousy Badger team back on its heels. There was some concern that the Gophers left some points on the field when the didn’t try to score when they had the ball with 2 minutes left in the half but generally every thing was looking good.
A second half of mistakes, fumbles, and inspired Badger play gave the Badgers a 35-32 win even though the Gophers had a chance to win in the last minute. It was a very entertaining game, a frustrating game, and ultimately a disappointing game.
Some have pointed to the final result and say the Gophers never gave up and even though they tried to hand the Badgers the game on a silver platter, were still in it at the end. Others, like Dan Barriero, have said that Gopher fans are in denial, this was a lousy Badger team and a loss is a loss, especially one where you had a 14 point lead at half time.
I’m somewhere in the middle. This isn’t a good Gopher team. There I said it Dan Barriero, this Gopher football team isn’t very good. But you know what? I don’t care. Compared to where they were last year, the Gophers are light years ahead of where I expected them to be. This year is just gravy and the fact that the Gophers were competitive and never quit at Ohio State and at Wisconsin is something to hold on to and kinda feel good about. I’ve lived through too many Golden Gopher seasons where a 56-10 final score was considered a mercy killing to feel otherwise.
However, a improvement in play brings higher expectations and I expect the Gophers to win games like the Wisconsin and Northwestern games next year. This is based on the improved play, improved coaching, and promise of better recruits. This year I’ll cut them some slack, next year I’ll be a little closer to the expectations spewed by the Dan Barrieros of the world.
So last game this week against Iowa. One last chance to get a trophy this year and last game ever at the soul-crushing Metrodome. I’d like to see a win so that I can hoist the Pig once again and update my picture with one showing off my new, svelte figure. If they don’t win, I’ll be disappointed once again but amazed that the worst team in football last year was able to win seven this year.