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On the night of October 10, 2003, we were not at the Metrodome. Instead, we were out covering a high school football game -- Armstrong 21, Wayzata 20, a search of the Star Tribune archives indicates.
This was before we had a smartphone that could tell us every 12 seconds what the score of the Gophers/Michigan game happening 20 or so miles away was. We got an update at the end of the third quarter: Minnesota 28, Michigan 7.
And we didn't hear anything else until way later.
Final score, of course: Michigan 38, Minnesota 35.
We bring that up because we are exactly one week away from the 10-year anniversary of that game. As such, we coordinated and had our guy Chip Scoggins write a retrospective on that game -- what it meant, how it still haunts players, just what did happen, etc.
It was a painful trip down memory lane, but when we started in on it we realized: we have never seen the game. We knew a lot of the details, but the pain wasn't as fresh because we had never seen it.
Thankfully, we imagine.
For the project, we recorded the game when it was shown a few months ago on the Big Ten Network. But we still couldn't bring ourself to watch the entire thing. Instead, we sped forward to the one part we really needed -- Asad Abdul-Khaliq's fourth-quarter interception, for the diagram that ran with the package today -- and then let it go.
We imagine this game goes on a short list of ones we would never, ever, want to watch in their entirety. We will leave it to you in the comments to come up with the ones that top your list.
[PS: In rereading that Armstrong/Wayzata game story, we have to note that it was a classic game in its own right. Wayzata scored a TD with 9 seconds left to pull within 1 point. They went for a 2-point conversion. Dom Barber -- Marion's brother -- caught a pass in the flat and was tackled about 18 inches short of the goal line. Ballgame. And a tough night in the Barber household].
Welcome to the big-time. (Or at least the medium-time). And welcome back to relevant, meaningful rivalry games.
There have been times when you could not give a Gophers football ticket away. This weekend is not that time. It sounds as though Gophers/Iowa will be jam-packed, based on this tweet:
And if you want to get in the building, it will cost you. According to an e-mail from Vivid Seats, the median secondary market price for Saturday's game at TCF Bank Stadium is $152. That's the fifth-highest of all college football games this weekend. Here is a chart of the top 20:
We would not suggest that the injury is fabricated or manufactured. We would suggest, at the least, that it is convenient.
In fact, both of the major football programs in this town have convenient QB injuries.
The Vikings, of course, are 0-3 and fans are clamoring for backup Matt Cassel to play. Ponder has been up-and-down in his first three games, making plays with his feet but still not looking like the confident pocket passer or playmaker that a team needs to win consistently. Sure, the Vikings have a ton of other problems (O-line play and secondary play rank high), but QB play is still near the top of the list. We venture to say the Vikings would be 2-1 at this point with merely above-average play from that spot.
An injury to Ponder lets everyone off the hook. The Vikings (and GM Rick Spielman) don't have to say they are benching him. Cassel gets a chance to show what what he can do; if he plays well, he likely keeps the job indefinitely, even when Ponder is healed, and we go back to square one in 2014.
Very convenient, if it happens.
The Gophers are dealing with a much different, yet still convenient situation. Philip Nelson has performed adequately, and better than that at times, since taking over the starting job as a true freshman mid-season last year. But one got the sense the Gophers were also itching to see Mitch Leidner play some extended minutes to see what the redshirt freshman was capable of.
Nelson's week 3 hamstring injury opened that door. Leidner finished that game, ran for 151 yards and four TDs last week against San Jose State and will likely get the start against Iowa in the Big Ten opener. In this case, it's convenient to wait until Nelson is absolutely 100 percent healthy -- not 90, not 95, not 99.9 -- before bringing him back into the mix in order to keep looking at Leidner.
The Gophers very well could end up needing both QBs quite a bit down the stretch based on all the QB runs that are part of the playbook.
The Vikings very well could find out they don't want either of their QBs in 2014.
But for now, injuries could be helping both avoid any really tough decisions.
Born out of a series of Tweets by commenter @RandBallsStu, an idea by your humble proprietor and a sick thirst to rile up Packers fans for no good reason, we present, "The Increasingly Lost Season." In this series, now entering its second year, Stu chronicles the Packers' misfortunes as they tumble back toward Randy Wright-esque putridity. This week he turns his attention, deservedly so, to the college ranks. Stu?
Although it would be easy and convenient for this writer to pretend otherwise, there are other football teams in the upper Midwest in the midst of their own increasingly lost seasons besides the Green Bay Packers. For example, there’s another team with myriad flaws on defense, dicey quarterback play, and an almost supernatural ability to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.
I speak, of course, of the Big Ten’s Wisconsin Badgers.
Now, the politically correct mob might say I’m discussing the Badgers because the Packers won in a mild upset at Daunte’s House over Washington. This is far from the truth. Indeed: Green Bay has proven they can compete with any team so long as the starting quarterback is hobbled or Joe Webb. Anything beyond that, well, the end result of such a lopsided race as that is too obvious to require elaboration. I understand that their long-suffering fan base is thrilled to be .500, but such is the soft bigotry of low expectations.
Back to the Badgers. On Saturday night/early Sunday morning, the second-most-disappointing football team in Wisconsin had Arizona State on the ropes in Tempe. Trailing 32-30, they had the ball well within field goal range with 18 seconds left and the clock stopped. Then, this happened.
Go ahead, watch the clip a few more times. I’ll wait here.
Done? Okay. Now, it goes without saying that the officials messed up, but let’s be frank: the Badgers were going to find a way to lose. Their quarterback, Joel Stave, who somehow gets two syllables out of “Stave” but can’t kneel down in a clear manner, would have found a different, more creative way to blow it. The field goal attempt would have been shanked. Arizona State would have scored a 15-lateral touchdown on the ensuing kickoff. These are the things that happen to teams like the Badgers.
Does Wisconsin deserve to have its two most high-profile teams mired in the midst of concurrent increasingly lost seasons? That’s open to debate. But no one can argue that it’s happening.
This week, the Badgers open their Big Ten schedule with a home game against Purdue. Their professional counterparts travel to Cincinnati to take on the surging Bengals. Can either team win? In these two increasingly lost seasons, “maybe” is as good as it’s going to get.
This is the era of no secrets, and we suppose that includes where people choose to live.
The Twin Cities Starlight site reports that new Gophers basketball coach Richard Pitino recently bought a very nice new house in Edina for $999,000.
Hey, he can certainly afford it ... and if you're a Gophers fan, the fact that he bought a place instead of renting at least reaffirms the notion that he will put down some roots, something he has said.
You can read more about the home right here. The site gives specs (five bedrooms and other fine amenities) but thankfully does not give a specific location (other than "Edina"). That would cross the line. One picture from the site, below: