Every week, Jon Marthaler takes us through the weekend in televised sports. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?
Game of the week: Penn State at Minnesota, 11am (BTN).
Earlier this week, the Star Tribune ran an online poll, asking fans which local sports story interested them the most. The winner, by a landslide, was Gopher football, with 42% of the votes cast; the Wild finished second with 15%.
Part of this is because the Gophers are a good story right now, with three straight wins and Jerry Kill's status drawing interest. I think it's also a testament, though, to something else; I think it speaks to Gopher football's status as the sleeping giant of the local sports scene. The Vikings are far and away the area's favorite team, but I think Gopher football might be the natural #2.
The poll is evidence, but just going to a Gopher game is evidence enough. I make jokes about the typically-geriatric Gopher football fan, and there are certainly plenty of old-timers who can remember the pre-1965 glory days - but there are plenty of people in the under-40 crowd as well. We under-40s have no memories of the Gophers ever being good, but we show up anyway, and I think that's a sign.
Today, the Gophers go for a fourth consecutive Big Ten win. The last such streak was 40 years ago, in the same year that was the last time the Gophers won six conference games, the minimum bar for being a decent team. Let the sleeping giant awake, I say. This town has waited a long time.
What else to watch this weekend
Saturday, 6pm: Hockey Night in Everywhere. The NHL Network shows Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights, a great development that's tempered by the fact that HNiC long ago became Maple Leafs Night in Canada. Fear not, hockey fans: you have choices! The Wild and Carolina are at 6pm on FSN, to go along with Toronto and Boston on NHL Network; if neither tickles your fancy, at 7:00, you can watch Chicago play Dallas (and root for the arena to collapse.) Or, you can watch...
Saturday, 7pm (CBS): #13 LSU at #1 Alabama. Oregon's out of the title picture, at least for the moment - and wouldn't it be just like Les Miles, the King of Chaos, to throw a wrench into the SEC picture by taking LSU into Tuscaloosa and beating Alabama? (Well, I hope so. I couldn't be more sick of stupid Alabama.)
Sunday, 10am (NBC Sports): Arsenal at Manchester United. Formerly, this was the only rivalry in the Premier League that mattered. Now, it's a matchup of first-place Arsenal trying to prove they belong, vs. eighth-place Manchester United trying to reverse a season that has so far been a disappointment. Also, if you watch this you won't have to watch any of the awful NFL pregame shows.
Sunday, 8:30pm (FSN): Wolves at Los Angeles Lakers. Minnesota's lost 22 straight to the Lakers. They haven't beaten LA since 2007; they haven't won in Los Angeles since 2005. But this year, the Wolves are good and the Lakers aren't, and maybe, just maybe, we can see the Wolves walk off the floor in LA with a win.