Jerry Kill came to the Gophers football program with a reputation for building programs — and, in particular, making a big step in his third year at a school. That has been the case in 2013, with the Gophers jumping to eight victories and continuing a progression. That said, it’s also interesting to compare the progression of Kill with that of Glen Mason in his early years at Minnesota — specifically, how each coach fared in his third season at the helm. Mason was 3-9 in his first season (1997) and 5-6 in his second season. Kill was 3-9 in his first season (2011) and 6-7 in his second season.
Record in third season at Minnesota
Mason: 8-4 (1999)
Kill: 8-4 (2013) heading into bowl game
Ground and pound
Under Mason: Thomas Hamner became first Gopher since Chris Darkins in 1994 to top 1,000 yards rushing.
Under Kill: David Cobb became first Gopher since Amir Pinnix in 2006 to top 1,000 yards rushing.
Mason: Held 11 opponents to 24 points or fewer.
Kill: Held 10 opponents (so far) to 24 points or fewer.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda
Mason: The four losses that season were by a combined 15 points, and all of the Big Ten losses were at home.
Kill: Team was 8-2 with a chance for even bigger things, but offense stalled in losses to Wisconsin and Michigan State to end conference season.
Mason: 24-23 victory at Penn State, which at the time was ranked No. 2 in the country.
Kill: 34-23 home victory over Nebraska, the first time the Gophers had beaten the Huskers since 1960 (16 games).
Mason: The Gophers went to a bowl game for the first time since 1986 and won eight games for the first time since 1967.
Kill: Gophers won four consecutive Big Ten games for first time since 1973 and have a chance, with a bowl victory, for only their second season with at least nine victories since 1905.