Rand: Reversal of fortunes highlights Vikings, Gophers similarities

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 29, 2012 - 6:48 AM

Both teams are 5-3. For Vikings fans, the sky is falling after a blowout loss at home to Tampa Bay. Gophers fans are suddenly much more on board with the Philip Nelson era.

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Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) watched from the bench late in the fourth quarter.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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What a difference a week makes.

As of last Monday, the Vikings were the football darlings of the state. They were 5-2 -- with question marks, sure, but ones that a lot of fans were willing to brush past in the name of enjoying the ride. The Gophers? They were 4-3, but falling fast. The main topics of conversation were Big Ten stumbles, quarterback redshirts and payment for games NOT played.

Now? Both teams are 5-3. For Vikings fans, the sky is falling after a blowout loss at home to Tampa Bay. Gophers fans are suddenly much more on-board with the Philip Nelson era starting in 2012 instead of 2013. In truth, though? Both of the teams' seasons -- except for timing -- are quite similar. For example:

• Unexpected success: Regardless of how they got there, it is fair to say both teams have better records at this point in the season than a lot of fans would have expected. Both teams, after all, won only three games a year ago. And both already have five victories this year. Quibble over easy schedules in both cases, but know this: Even the "winnable" games usually turned into losses in 2011 for both.

• Best win: The Vikings' best win remains a 24-13 victory over San Francisco, a preseason pick to make a deep run and perhaps reach the Super Bowl. That victory provided the blueprint for success: efficient offense, stingy defense and solid special teams. The Gophers' best win came Saturday, a 44-28 victory over Purdue -- a preseason pick to perhaps reach the Rose Bowl. That victory provided the blueprint for success: a dual-threat QB making plays combined with a defense making enough stops to win.

• Young QB: Both teams will only go as far as their young QB can take them the rest of the season. Nelson was promising even in defeat against Wisconsin and fantastic against Purdue. Team success going forward is predicated on him playing beyond his years. Christian Ponder was lauded early but has since hit a speed bump (or a brick wall). The Vikings can't win unless he returns to early-season form.

• Schedule gets tougher: Both teams are at certain midpoints of their years: the Vikings in terms of actual games, the Gophers in terms of Big Ten games. For both teams, there is no doubt that the early schedule was much easier than the rest of the way figures to be. Both already have eclipsed last year's win total; but to truly judge the year as a major success and not just a step forward, an unexpected win or two down the stretch is vital.

MICHAEL RAND

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Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle - LP: F. Rodney 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: P. Figueroa 3
Boston - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: L. Garcia 4
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 6 FINAL
Houston - LP: J. Williams 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland - LP: D. Pomeranz 4 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Smith 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 4
Los Angeles - LP: J. Howell 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Machi 2
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 FINAL
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 136 FINAL
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 116 FINAL
Denver 112
LA Clippers 104 FINAL
Portland 110
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 3 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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