Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

Email Patrick.

Gophs building off bowl glory for season ahead

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: July 29, 2013 - 1:52 PM

The Gophers defeated UCLA 21-3 to win the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1962. We were impressed. And when Murray Warmath assembled his squad for the 1962 season, there were positive reminders of the glory that had taken place nine months earlier in Pasadena, Calif.

Quarterback Sandy Stephens was among several important seniors who had been lost, but linemen Bobby Lee Bell and Carl Eller were returning, as was Stephens' buddy Bill Munsey at running back. And, we were being assured by objective reporters such as Sid Hartman that senior Duane Blaska would slide in as a capable replacement for Stephens.

The Gophers started 1-1-1, tying Missouri (0-0), beating the Naval Academy (and sophomore QB Roger Staubach) 21-0, and losing the Big Ten opener to Northwestern (and coach Ara Parseghian) 34-22. From there, the Gophers ran off five straight Big Ten wins and went to Madison for a Nov. 24 game that would decide the trip to the Rose Bowl.

The Gophers lost 14-9 to the Badgers and a gang of thieves hired by the Big Ten to officiate the game.

It is 52 seasons since Minnesotans have been able to watch the Gophers enter a season basking in the glow of a truly great bowl game performance. Yes, Glen Mason did have three straight bowl wins over Oregon, Arkansas and Alabama from 2002 through 2004, but let's face it:

Those were nothing compared to what occurred with Jerry Kill's Gophers last Dec. 28, when they took on Texas Tech in the tradition-rich Meineke Muffler Repair Bowl in Houston.

Everything was stacked against Country Jer's plucky Gophers when they went to Texas. Consider:

*Coach Tommy Tuberville saw such promise in this Texas Tech team and where the program was headed that he left for Cincinnati on Dec. 9.

*The Raiders were coming off a dramatic stretch drive in which they suffered heart-breaking losses in four of their last five games. They allowed an average of a mere 49.3 points per game and lost by an average of a mere 21.3 points in those four games.

*It was impossible to downplay the Raiders' noble victory in the midst of all that heartbreak on Nov. 10 in Lubbock: 41-34 in overtime over Kansas ... and this was a KU team that coach Charlie Weis just this week jauntily looked back on as "a piece of crap.''

Even with Texas Tech playing under the inspiring leadership of interim coach Chris Thomsen, a one-season assistant who wasn't going to be part of the new staff, the Gophers took it to the Raiders. They were rambling on the ground, hitting on defense, and took a 31-24 lead early in the fourth period on Philip Nelson's one-yard missile to Drew Goodger.

OK, there was a little blip at the end, when Tech's Seth Doege threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Eric Ward with 1:10 remaining, and then Ryan Bustin kicked a 28-yard field goal on the last play, and Texas Tech won 34-31, but what the heck, when you can take a team to the last play that beat "a piece in crap'' in overtime only seven weeks earlier, that's saying something for what is being built here, right?

Country Jer and his players mentioned frequently the glory of the Meineke Bowl during spring practice. Kill repeated that as gospel during the Gophers' caravan around the state earlier this summer. And this week at the Big Ten's preseason media session in Chicago, Kill said:

"... I think the kids took the momentum out of the bowl game, took it into the offseason, did an outstanding job in the offseason getting bigger, stronger and faster. And went into spring ball, [and I] felt like we had our best spring ball.''

It should be clear to all of us: The Gophers are coming off their greatest bowl achievement in 51 seasons.

Actually, I'm feeling a little better about our rodents as practice starts Thursday than was the case as a young fan in 1962. Our boys now have Ra'Shede Hageman; back in '62, all we had was Bell and Eller.



San Francisco 2 Top 6th Inning
Kansas City 2
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Houston 90 FINAL
Orlando 89
Brooklyn 86 FINAL
Boston 100
Washington 100 4th Qtr 0:02
New York 103
Cleveland 65 3rd Qtr 1:06
Memphis 67
Minnesota 80 4th Qtr 12:00
Milwaukee 67
Atlanta 53 3rd Qtr
San Antonio 48
Portland 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Phoenix 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 2 3rd Prd
Pittsburgh 2
Washington 0 1st Prd 13:39
Edmonton 0
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Chivas USA 0 1st Half 35:00
Real Salt Lake 0
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM


question of the day

Poll: Who should get the Twins' managing job?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters