History lesson: Gophers football and the pursuit of four straight Big Ten wins

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 8, 2013 - 12:51 PM

FILE - Nov. 1, 2008. Northwestern safety Brendan Smith crossed into the end zone with the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter after intercepting a pass intended for Gophers receiver Eric Decker, bottom right.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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The Gophers on Saturday have the chance to win four straight Big Ten football games for the first time since 1973.

That's when Cal Stoll’s team shook off a 34-7 home loss to No. 4 Michigan and defeated Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois and Wisconsin to round out a 7-4 season back when seven victories didn't get you into a bowl game.

Since, 11 different Gophers teams have won three straight only to lose game No. 4. Here's a look at those failed attempts:

1980 (coach Joe Salem)

Won: vs. Iowa, at Illinois, vs. Indiana

No. 4: Lost 30-12 vs. Michigan State

The skinny: The Spartans scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach, including field goals of 41 and 30 yards by Morten Anderson.

1985 (Lou Holtz)

Won: vs. Purdue, at Northwestern, at Indiana

No. 4: Lost 23-19 vs. No. 9 Ohio State

The Skinny: Rickey Foggie’s 1-yard plunge midway through the third quarter gave the Gophers a 19-10 lead but the Buckeyes answered with two quick scores in the fourth.

1986 (John Gutekunst)

Won: at Purdue, vs. Northwestern, vs. Indiana

No. 4: Lost 33-0 at Ohio State

The skinny: Cris Carter (five catches, 127 yards and 2 TDs) and the Buckeyes used the victory as a springboard to the following week, when they upset No. 1 Iowa 22-13.

1990 (Gutekunst)

Won: at Purdue, vs. Northwestern, vs. Indiana

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