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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St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 3
Texas 0 Top 2nd Inning
Seattle 0
Washington - D. Fister 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick
Tampa Bay - D. Smyly 6:05 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Boston - J. Kelly 6:07 PM
Toronto - M. Stroman
NY Yankees - S. Greene 6:08 PM
Detroit - D. Price
Atlanta - J. Teheran 6:10 PM
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler
Chicago Cubs - J. Turner 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - M. Latos
Cleveland - C. Kluber 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi
Minnesota - P. Hughes 7:10 PM
Kansas City - L. Hendriks
Oakland - D. Pomeranz 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 8:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw 8:40 PM
Arizona - W. Miley
Miami - H. Alvarez 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
Colorado - F. Morales 9:15 PM
San Francisco - T. Hudson
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
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Dallas
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Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
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Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
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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
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
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
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma 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
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
D.C. 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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