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.


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I could use a warning label: Dangerous when witty

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: January 19, 2014 - 11:28 AM

There are occasions when I’m so sharp of wit that there is a fear of cutting myself. One of those occurred when the announcement was made late last summer that the Gophers would play Ohio State in a hockey game at TCF Bank Stadium.

In the snap of a finger, it came to me: This is great. It will be a chance for the Gophers to get a victory over the Buckeyes in a Minneapolis football stadium.

Darn near pulled a muscle I was in such a hurry to get to an instrument of modern communication in order to be the first to send that observation on Twitter.

Many folks in the sports information business are dedicated to being first on Twitter with news, such as, “Vikings will hire Mike Zimmer.’’ And those that aren’t first and pride themselves on being scoop artists are sure to retweet this seconds later with the prologue, “As expected.’’

Me? If something falls into my ample lap, I’ll throw it out there, but my focus as an overly involved Tweeter is to be first with the smart-alecky message. And first is a challenge, with thousands of other sports fans out there who are dangerous to themselves when it comes to sharpness of wit.

For instance, last week there was some byplay about the possibility of a soccer-specific stadium near Target Field to attract an MLS team. I agreed on Twitter to become a booster, as long as the youth of Minnesota could duplicate the debauchery of Kicks’ crowds at Met Stadium for several summers starting in 1976.

There’s a wry gent with the handle @SteveWalsh3 that I’ve been following for several years. I get the impression he’s in his 50s.

After some young people vowed they could provide that new-age debauchery for an MLS team, @SteveWalsh3 summarized the timeline for his generation’s involvement with the Kicks:

“Then they made us go into the stadium & confusion, sobriety and finally abandonment prevailed.’’

That was superb … not quite up to my “this hockey game will be a chance for Gophers to beat Ohio State in a Minneapolis football stadium,’’ but superb.

This result came to be on Friday night when the No. 1-rated Gophers defeated the Buckeyes 1-0. There were 45,000 tickets distributed, and from what I’m told, maybe 30,000 in actual attendance at the peak.

There are also reliable reports that, when it came to drink, thousands of attendees were offering a wintertime version of a Kicks crowd in the Met’s parking lot in, say, July of 1977.

“Man, there were a lot of drunks,’’ said Judd Zulgad, the host of the “Judd and Someone’’ show at the station we share, AM-1500. “After the game, one large fellow had done a face plant in the snow right next to the street. Three of his buddies were trying to lift him to his feet.

“Everyone around cheered when they were finally able to get the moose upright on wobbly legs.’’

As for the “beating OSU in a Minneapolis football stadium’’ angle, Friday’s 1-0 victory was the first time that has happened since 1981 – at Memorial Stadium.

The Gophers went 0-11 vs. the Buckeyes in the Metrodome. Glen Mason did get a victory against Ohio State: in Columbus, 29-17 on Oct. 14, 2000.

Ohio State has played football only once in TCF Bank Stadium: a 52-10 victory for the Buckeyes on Oct. 30, 2010. The Gophers are 7-43 all-time vs. Ohio State. Since 1966, they are 2-36, with Mason’s victory in 2000, and Joe Salem’s finest moment as Gophers coach -- 35-31 win on Nov. 7, 1981.

Ohio State wound up tying Iowa for the Big Ten championship at 6-2. Iowa went to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 23 years. Salem’s Gophers also had won in Iowa City that season, 12-10, on Oct. 24.

Two weeks later, the Gophers fell behind Ohio State 14-0 in the first quarter and trailed 21-7 at halftime. Mike Hohensee, the Gophers’ JUCO transfer at quarterback, threw quick touchdown passes of 27 yards to tight end Jay Carroll and 17 yards to running back Frank Jacobs to get a 21-21 tie early in the second half.

Ohio State was back in front 31-21 in the fourth quarter, but Hohensee threw a pair of TDs – 18 and 28 yards – to Carroll. The second came with 2:58 left, and the Gophers held on for the upset.

It was the Gophers’ final victory in Memorial Stadium. They would lose the last game played in the Brickhouse, 26-21 to Wisconsin, to finish 6-5 overall and 4-5 in the Big Ten.

That was a historic win over the Buckeyes. The only thing that makes me slightly suspicious is that Artie Schlichter was Ohio State’s quarterback, and we know the news of Artie’s fondness for gambling that surfaced a few years later.

The good news is the Gophers finally have ended their streak of futility vs. Ohio State in a Minneapolis football stadium … on a goal by Taylor Cammarata.

Come on, even you folks blinded by Gophers zealotry have to admit it. That’s witty.

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