Another B1G game for Nebraska, but aren’t they all at this point?
I know that Nebraska fans are dismissive of the Gophers despite Minnesota leading the series against our beloved Huskers 32-25-2. Most of Minnesota’s wins occurred early in history, including a 10-game winning streak from 1940-1949 by the Gophers. Husker fans don’t see Minnesota as much of a threat.
Strong Identity vs “Still Trying To Find Ourselves”
It’s easier to look down on Minnesota when you believe their coach, PJ Fleck, is nothing more than a gimmicky charlatan snake oil salesman. Fleck is bigger than life, appearing on billboards in the Twin Cities and being pictured as a giant on the 2017 Minnesota football media guide cover.
He runs onto the field with manic energy, talks a mile-a-minute, and runs up and down the sidelines during games. Former Gopher head coach Jerry Kill, a guy whom college football loves, said that Fleck is “about himself”.
Then there’s the “Row The Boat” bit:
“There’s three parts to rowing a boat: there’s an oar, there’s a boat and there’s a compass. The oar is the energy you bring to your life, your family, your team, your spiritual life, your personal life, your social life. It’s the energy. Energy breathes loves. If you love something, you’re going to put a lot of energy into it.
Cheesy? If he’s not your guy, sure.
If he’s not your guy, he looks and acts like snake oil salesman.
Thing is, Minnesota is 5-0 in Fleck’s third year. They appear to have taken this “Row the Boat” business to heart.
It’s hard to say. What are we? Who are we? What are we doing?
One week we play a fairly clean game with few penalties and no turnovers, the next we’re giving the ball away like it’s infected with brain-eating amoebas.
We’re supposed to be physical. There hasn’t been much of that so far this season. Perhaps it will come in time, but it ain’t here yet.
Mental Toughness vs Mental Weakness
We are supposed to be tough, too. “Tough” is mental, not physical.
Three of Minnesota’s wins were fourth-quarter comebacks, with two coming in the last minute of the game. Say what you want about the competition, but those games are losses if you have a team that gets down on themselves and doesn’t have to leaders to pull out a win.
The Gophers have won four straight one-possession games to start the season. This is just the fifth time this has happened in Division IA history. The last team to complete such a task was Penn State in 1985.
Minnesota has 23 penalties for 212 yards so far this season. They are tied for 11th nationally in penalty yardage per game.
Nebraska has looked rattled at times. Center Cameron Jurgens is still dealing high snaps and quarterback Adrian Martinez has looked uncomfortable all season.
Our beloved Huskers were tough in pulling out a last-second win against the Nerds last weekend. Despite injuries to key players they showed the resolve required to get the victory.
Will they show that same resolve in Minneapolis this weekend? Or will be they giving the ball and the game away?
Minnesota Has Players In The Right Place
I picked Minnesota to win the Big Ten West before the season began.
Minnesota figured themselves out in the latter part of last season. They are 7-0 since, beating Wisconsin and Georgia Tech in a bowl game.
Quarterback Tanner Morgan is 9-2 as a starter. He’s completing over 70% of his passes, along with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. Receiver Tyler Johnson is Minnesota’s Wan’Dale Robinson, although perhaps not quite as versatile. Receiver Rashod Bateman isn’t far behind.
The offense line is as follows:
Blaise Andries (6-6, 325), Curtis Dunlap Jr. (6-5, 345), Daniel Faalele (6-9, 400), Conner Olson (6-5, 305), and Sam Schlueter (6-6, 325). That is a massive amount of beef. Faalele sometimes lines up in the backfield. You get in the way of a 400-pound dude and not die.
Minnesota’s running backs aren’t world beaters. They’re not Jonathan Taylors, but they are pretty good. Rodney Smith, Mohamed Ibrahim, and Shannon Brooks. You’ll get to know their names.
I didn’t even mention anyone on the defense!
Rain and snow showers mixed in the afternoon. High near 40F. Winds WSW at 15 to 25 mph with higher gusts expected. Chance of precipitation at 50%.
Sunset is at 6:33 pm. Snow showers will become more widely scattered later on. Some rain may mix in. Low around 35F. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 40%.
This sounds like crap. Not a fun snow game, but a sloppy, icky mess.
Granted, both teams have to play in the weather.
Interesting note - TCF Bank Stadium is a heated field. The NFL required that be put in when the Vikings played there while waiting for US Bank Stadium to be built. Will the heat be on? Given that the ground isn’t frozen, it may not make any difference. It’d be interesting to find the answer to that question. I think I’ll ask.
(I did ask, and I got the answer right before this published, that the heat is turned on and will be on for the game.)
The weather favors which team, the one ranked 52nd nationally in turnover margin, or the one ranked 100th?
What do you have when you have a program, coaches, and team all moving in the same direction, ala ROW THE BOAT?
You have an unstoppable force. You have a team that can’t be beat. Won’t be beat.
Minnesota looks like they’re there. Will Nebraska get there? Remains to be seen.
Bonus: I Can’t Have Nice Things
My family will be at this game. There’s nothing they like more than giving me crap about my beloved Cornhuskers. Especially the rotten son. I’ve tried to be a good boy lately... well, let’s just say I’m doing the best I can.
I have a feeling that isn’t enough karma to help us.