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Acting Gophers head football coach Tracy Claeys

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Rand: Gophers and Vikings heading down different paths

  • November 4, 2013 - 6:35 AM

It was a flashback weekend for football fans in Minnesota. There were two very different emotions on Saturday and Sunday, but we’d like to attempt to sum things up in terms of history:

Same old Gophers until ...

If you watched the Gophers’ thrilling 42-39 victory over Indiana on Saturday, you undoubtedly had unpleasant flashbacks to the Glen Mason era for much of the second half.

It fit the script of so many collapses from those decent-to-good Mason years, up to and including having the ability to really gut-punch a fan base right as it started to believe something special might be happening. A 35-13 lead became a 39-35 deficit in the near-blink of an eye. Then a late rallying TD seemed to come too quick. And then … the Hoosiers hand-delivered a gift. But the Gophers were there to accept it, and give them massive credit for it. They didn’t give up. They kept playing. And they won.

Next Saturday, at home against Penn State, they have a chance to do something the program hasn’t done since 1973: win four consecutive Big Ten games in one season. They’ve had three a bunch of times. But four? Not since the Cal Stoll-led squad four decades ago. That’s real momentum.

Same old Vikings still

If you watched the Vikings’ deflating 27-23 loss to Dallas, you undoubtedly had unpleasant flashbacks to earlier this season. The Tank for Teddy and Clown for Clowney crowds will appreciate a well-earned defeat, but if you actually like victories it was pretty gruesome.

Against the Bears, the Vikings went conservative on first-and-goal and settled for the field goal that gave them a 30-24 lead with a little more than three minutes to play. Against the Browns, with a chance to ice the game, they went three-and-out and gave the ball back with a little more than three minutes to play. And with a chance to ice the game against Dallas, the Vikings went three-and-out and gave the Cowboys the ball back with just under three minutes to play.

Three chances for Christian Ponder to make a play to seal a game. Three failures. Three chances for the defense to bail the team out with one final stop. Three failures. A perfectly even split for the blame, and the difference between a team that could be 4-4 and is instead 1-7.

MICHAEL RAND

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