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.

Kill is a healthy maroon as an XXXL game arrives

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: November 19, 2013 - 9:21 PM

True enough, I did offer this sendoff in an article that appeared on the 1500ESPN.com Website concerning the 2013 University of Minnesota football team: “The Gophers can win four or five [Big Ten] games. And one of the best reasons for this should be effective play at quarterback, whether it’s [Mitch] Leidner, [Phil] Nelson or both.’’

I would ask that you hold your applause. This suggestion was made on Sept. 22, after the Gophers had gone 4-0 through the non-conference games and before they played the Big Ten opener at home against Iowa.

The Gophers stunk out TCF Bank Stadium for 60 minutes against the Hawkeyes, and they were blown out in the second half at Michigan Stadium by the Wolverines the next week, and this caused my tune to change substantially:

I went from looking at .500 in the Big Ten as doable, to wondering where the Gophers – without Purdue and Illinois on the schedule – were going to get a conference victory.

Lo and behold, there have been two at the on-campus stadium (Nebraska and Penn State) and two on the road (Northwestern and Indiana), for the Gophers’ first four-game winning streak in the Big Ten since 1973.

Forty years ago – so far back that I hadn’t even started practicing the art of writing smart-aleck observations on the futility of Gophers football at the time.

Wisconsin comes next, on Saturday in Minneapolis, and the winning streak has made it the biggest game for the Gophers in a decade: since Michigan came to the Metrodome on a Friday night in October 2003.

And a victory? I’m declaring that it would be the most-important win since the 1977 Gophers shut out No. 1-rated Michigan 16-0 at Memorial Stadium.

Glen Mason had a few good ones, but a win over Wisconsin would put the Gophers in position for a bowl game worth a cheer rather than a sneer. And if Michigan State loses at Northwestern, it would create a showdown in East Lansing for a berth in the Big Ten title game opposite Ohio State.

And if the Gophers were to win that; dang, I have to settle down here, even if I did spend 1 ½ of the best years of my life falling woefully short of a Liberal Arts degree at the U of M.

I did run into one fellow on Tuesday who did not seem completely shocked as to what has occurred with these Gophers … a country boy named Jerry Kill.

The Gophers have been holding a media gathering in the Gibson-Nagurski Building on Tuesdays for years. That’s the day a head coach also is expected to spend a few minutes on the Big Ten’s conference call. He does his duty there, then walks into a meeting room and takes questions for 20-25 minutes from Twin Cities reporters.

This was the third time I had joined the group this season. The first was before the Western Illinois game on Sept. 14. There was a bandage on Kill’s forehead and the rest of his face was a gray/red combo. He looked terrible.

Four days later, he had a seizure as his team was getting ready to leave the field at halftime. Later, there was information that the bandage covered a bump suffered during a seizure the previous weekend.

Kill returned to coach against San Jose State and Iowa, then underwent more seizures and was unable to make the trip to Michigan.

The drama continued: Kill visiting more experts in epilepsy. Tracy Claeys taking over as interim coach. Kill showing up in the press box at Northwestern, then getting more involved from the coaches box against Nebraska and at Indiana.

I attended another Tuesday news conference before the Nov. 9 game against Penn State. Kill showed up by himself (Claeys also had been there to answer questions a week earlier). This made it clear Kill was fully back in charge.

He looked good … not great.

The Gophers handled Penn State to make it four in a row. They had a second bye week in the Big Ten’s we-have-to-stretch-this-to-Thanksgiving schedule.

On Tuesday, there was the pre-Wisconsin media session and, I have to say, Country Jer looked great. His face was a healthy maroon more than the gray-blotched red of mid-September.

Kill always tries to come off as aw-shucks casual in these settings, and sometimes it’s forced. This time, he was true casual; excited for the Wisconsin game, for some “old-fashioned,’’ cold-weather, Midwestern football, but not overly excited.

To me, Country Jer had the look of a coach who came to Minnesota three years ago knowing that he would be coaching in XXXL games eventually, and deep down, he’s not shocked that one has arrived so soon.

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles 7 Top 8th Inning
Chicago Cubs 6
Detroit 3 Bottom 9th Inning
Kansas City 2
Philadelphia 0 Top 1st Inning
Oakland 0
Toronto 1 Top 1st Inning
NY Yankees 0
Arizona 0 Top 1st Inning
Colorado 0
Boston - R. De La Rosa 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Milwaukee - M. Garza 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Washington - J. Zimmermann 6:10 PM
Miami - J. Cosart
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Cleveland - T. House 6:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Seattle - C. Young 6:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL 0:00
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 9 3rd Qtr 8:26
Colorado 21
Marshall 31 3rd Qtr 13:54
Akron 3
Louisville 0 Delayed 15:00
FIU 0
North Carolina 13 1st Qtr 4:40
East Carolina 7
Army 7 1st Qtr 0:49
Wake Forest 7
Virginia 7 2nd Qtr
(21) BYU 3
(6) Texas A&M 10 1st Qtr 2:49
SMU 0
Rutgers 7 1st Qtr 2:56
Navy 7
Central Mich 0 1st Qtr 1:17
Kansas 7
Utah 3 2nd Qtr
Michigan 3
Florida 14 1st Qtr 9:20
(3) Alabama 7
Fla Atlantic 0 1st Qtr 12:05
Wyoming 0
Indiana 0 1st Qtr 9:03
(18) Missouri 0
San Jose St 0 1st Qtr 9:45
Minnesota 3
Texas State 0 1st Qtr 13:08
Illinois 6
Massachusetts 0 1st Qtr 10:11
Penn State 0
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 4:00 PM
Portland
Houston 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
New England 6:30 PM
Columbus
San Jose 6:30 PM
Montreal
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT