Gophers' football milestones are molehills

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 6, 2013 - 12:53 AM

Each win is a big step forward, but the Gophers aren’t making a big deal about the numbers.

hide

Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner took some key snaps in the second half of their come-from-behind victory Saturday at Indiana. Leidner finished as the team’s second-leading rusher, with 35 yards on six carries, as the Gophers moved above .500 in the Big Ten.

Photo: ALAN PETERSIME • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Saturday’s victory at Indiana guaranteed the Gophers that this year will finish as a step forward. Now, they have a chance to turn it into a leap.

After going 3-9 and 6-7 in Jerry Kill’s first two seasons at Minnesota — and 2-6 in the Big Ten both times — the Gophers are 7-2, 3-2 in the conference.

On Saturday, they will play a beatable Penn State team at TCF Bank Stadium before closing the regular season with tougher tests against Wisconsin and Michigan State.

The Gophers will have another bye week to regroup after the Penn State game, and here’s what a victory would mean:

• It would be the first eight-win season since they went 10-3 in 2003 under Glen Mason.

• It would be their first time with four Big Ten victories since they went 4-4 under Mason in 2005.

• It would give them four consecutive Big Ten victories for the first time since 1973 under Cal Stoll.

“We don’t really pay attention to it,” Kill said Sunday. “When I talked to the [players] last week, I said, ‘You need to enjoy the pats on the back. … You need to soak it in, and enjoy the moments. … But you can’t forget where you came from.’ ”

The Gophers flourished as underdogs, beating Northwestern, Nebraska and Indiana, but early betting lines are calling the Penn State game more of a toss-up.

The Nittany Lions (5-3, 2-2) needed overtime at home on Saturday to defeat an Illinois team that has dropped 18 consecutive Big Ten games, dating to 2011. Last month, Indiana defeated Penn State 44-24, but Bill O’Brien’s team came back the next and beat Michigan at home, also in overtime.

“There are a ton of good coaches in the Big Ten, but there’s nobody that did what that guy [O’Brien] did last year, with all the adversity that he faced,” Kill said. “That guy can coach football … and he’ll have his kids ready to play.”

It’s one of four trophy games for the Gophers. The teams will play for the Governor’s Victory Bell, which Minnesota last won in 2004. The Gophers are 0-4 against Penn State since then, with the last meeting coming in 2010, the year before Kill arrived.

Kill said the Gophers need their fans to pack the stadium and that the players have to come out hungry. But he doesn’t want to overstate the importance, either.

“I think we’re playing pretty loose right now,” he said. “I think early, we were pressing so much, and now they’re just playing hard and having fun, and not panicking.”

Kill pointed to the go-ahead drive at Indiana. The Gophers had squandered a 22-point lead and trailed the Hoosiers 39-35. But after returning from a hip pointer injury, sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson hit redshirt freshman tight end Maxx Williams for a 50-yard touchdown pass.

“We had to go down and score and threw the touchdown; that hasn’t happened since I’ve been here anyway,” Kill said. “We usually [hit] the panic button, and I promise you most people were going, ‘Oh, here we go again.’ ”

The Gophers caught their biggest break of the season with 25 seconds remaining, when Indiana tried a screen pass from the Gophers 9. Nate Sudfeld threw the ball backwards, behind running back Tevin Coleman, and after a painstaking pause, Gophers linebacker Aaron Hill grabbed the ball, securing the victory.

“I think every coach will tell you, ‘We’ve got a lot of room to get better yet,’ ” Kill said. “But [Saturday] was a prime example that if you play hard, sometimes things fall your way.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago WSox 1 Bottom 4th Inning
NY Yankees 1
Tampa Bay 1 Bottom 5th Inning
Toronto 2
Detroit 1 Top 4th Inning
Minnesota 9
Seattle 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Boston 2
Baltimore 1 Bottom 1st Inning
Chicago Cubs 0
San Francisco - T. Lincecum 3:05 PM
Washington - J. Zimmermann
Houston - C. McHugh 6:05 PM
Cleveland - D. Salazar
St. Louis - S. Miller 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan
Atlanta - E. Santana 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - M. Leake
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez 6:10 PM
Milwaukee - W. Peralta
San Diego - A. Cashner 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Miami - T. Koehler 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Kansas City - J. Guthrie 7:25 PM
Texas - N. Tepesch
LA Angels - C. Wilson 8:05 PM
Oakland - J. Lester
NY Mets - J. deGrom 8:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Tampa Bay 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
UCF 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Penn State
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
Oklahoma State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Chicago 6:00 PM
Toronto FC
Montreal 6:00 PM
Red Bull New York
Chivas USA 6:30 PM
New England
Houston 6:30 PM
Columbus
D.C. 7:30 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Vancouver FC 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Montreal 16 FINAL
Winnipeg 24
Toronto 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Indiana 4:00 PM
Washington
Minnesota 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which football team will have the best record in 2014?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close