I hesitate to call the Gophers’ Quick Lane Bowl appearance Monday vs. Central Michigan a no-win proposition since quite literally that’s not true, but in judging the reactions of some observers it sure felt that way.
If Minnesota would have lost to Central Michigan, putting an unflattering bow on a 5-8 season, the naysayers would have pounced on the opportunity to declare the loss was one more bit of proof that the Gophers will never be good. How could they be, if they can’t even win the Quick Lane Bowl?
But that didn’t happen. Minnesota won 21-14 in a balanced game. That didn’t dampen the spirits of those who wanted to discredit the program, though. The talking points: the Gophers almost lost to a bad team; they still finished with a losing record; they didn’t even deserve to be in the bowl game in the first place.
Perhaps it’s a good time to remember this, on the heels of both the Quick Lane Bowl and the Vikings’ victory over the Giants: a win is a win. You can only play who is on your schedule. If your starting point is to discredit what transpires, win or lose, based on the quality of opponent, meaning of the game or both, then what’s the point of even caring or watching?
Certainly the Gophers recognize Monday’s victory for what it was: a nice way to end a disappointing season, a victory that broke a seven-game bowl losing streak, and a victory that in every way possible was better than the alternatives of either not playing or playing and losing.
Same goes for the Vikings, who took advantage of a disinterested Giants team and cruised to a playoff berth Sunday. Beating a bad team is sure better than losing to a bad team.
It is possible to maintain that perspective, even if it appears some fans just want to be unhappy no matter what.