ADVERTISEMENT

Gophers Jordan Hinojosa was mobbed by enthusiastic fans after the victory over Nebraska.

Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

Rand: Don't plan a winter of our discontent

  • November 5, 2013 - 1:41 PM

The Vikings are in full-fledged tire fire mode. The Twins won’t play for several months, and it remains to be seen how they will attempt to fix a team that has lost at least 96 games three years in a row.

But forget about them. Those two teams might draw the most water in Minnesota, but they aren’t the whole show. Early signs indicate this could be a pretty good and possibly special fall and winter with these other teams in town:

Gophers football

Minnesota breezed into bowl eligibility with three consecutive victories over squads favored by more than a touchdown — only the third time that’s happened in college football since 1980, according to R.J. Bell of Pregame.com. The realistic expectation: Minnesota at least goes back to the Texas Bowl (formerly Meineke Bowl). Big dreamers might consider: a New Year’s Day Bowl and a possible berth in the Big Ten title game if everything breaks right.

Wild

Minnesota has five victories in its past six games and has at least four goals in three of its last four. The offense is starting to find its rhythm. The realistic expectation: A return trip to the playoffs and a more competitive showing than last season. Big dreamers might consider: Winning a playoff series and seeing if momentum builds from there for a deeper run.

Timberwolves

A well-timed victory at New York on Sunday made the Wolves top-five darlings in a lot of power rankings released Monday. They are probably not a top-five team long-term, but they are showing signs of turning the corner. The realistic expectation: At least a .500 record and a playoff berth. Big dreamers might consider: If everyone stays healthy, why not think big and go for just the second season in franchise history with a playoff series victory?

Gophers hockey

This goes for both the men and women, of course. Neither has lost a game. It will be exceedingly hard to keep that up, but both are unanimous No. 1 teams in the USCHO.com poll released Monday. The realistic expectation: A Frozen Four berth for both. Big dreamers might consider: This isn’t even that farfetched, but both programs could take home NCAA championships this season.

Michael Rand

© 2014 Star Tribune