This wasn't exactly the Twins and 45,000 of their friends waiting around the Metrodome on Oct. 1, 2006, to find out if the Detroit Tigers would lose and they would win the American League Central.

It wasn't that, but it was plenty emotional for the Gophers to be kneeling as a group behind second base, looking at the Siebert Field video board to watch the final three outs of Nebraska's 2-0 victory over Indiana on Friday night in Lincoln, Neb.

Ten minutes earlier, the Gophers had completed a comeback victory — 4-3 vs. Ohio State, and more importantly, a comeback from a very poor 2015 season.

The Indiana leadoff hitter was on first, and then Nebraska turned a double play. Another ground ball and another out, and that was it:

The Gophers, ninth-place finishers in the Big Ten in 2015, were the champions of the regular season with a 16-6 record and one game left vs. the Buckeyes on Saturday.

The Gophers leapt en masse and embraced one another jubilantly. The Big Ten had delivered the championship trophy to Minnesota, in case the Gophers held on to first place through the weekend.

Soon, the trophy was being raised inside the group of delighted Gophers. A year ago, a 9-15 record had left them in ninth and as an absentee from a Big Ten tournament played at Target Field.

Twelve months later, they will be going to Omaha as the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament. What happened?

"More than talent, it was leadership from our seniors," Micah Coffey said. "What happened last season was something they weren't going to see repeated … and everyone bought in.

"That, and we had a cause worth fighting for."

The cause was Todd Oakes, the Gophers pitching coach. Once again, he had suffered a setback in his impossible battle against leukemia, and the roster turned his fight into one of its own.

Coffey, a sophomore third baseman from Batavia, Ill., provided a snap shot of that Friday night.

The Gophers went into the final three games of the Big Ten schedule with a half-game lead over Indiana. Ohio State won 3-2 on Thursday night, when the Gophers had plenty of chances but were devoid of clutch hits.

On Friday, the Gophers loaded the bases with one out in the first, and the lefthanded-hitting Coffey rapped into a double play.

"That double play had to hurt, after the wasted chances last night," a reporter said to Coffey after the victory celebration.

Coffey smiled and said: "Which one? I hit into two."

Ohio State had a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth. The Gophers offense, potent all season, struck for four runs. Coffey pulled a changeup from lefty John Havird into the right-field corner for a triple.

That produced a 3-3 tie. And then, with extra-alert baserunning, Coffey took off from third on a short wild pitch and scored the lead run.

It turned into the winning run, when starter Dalton Sawyer held the lead through five more outs and then closer Jordan Jess got the last four.

Sawyer decided to come back as a senior rather than sign as a 27th-rounder with the Twins."Best decision I've ever made," he said.

Jess is a redshirt senior. He doesn't throw with the same stuff as Sawyer, but he has a breaking ball that's hard to track and now has nine saves as the closer.

John Anderson's run as Gophers coach dates to 1982. This was his ninth regular-season title, to go with nine Big Ten tournament titles.

The regrettable 2015 was a rarity for his program: a losing overall record (21-30) for the second time and the 9-15 conference record that was Anderson's second worst by winning percentage (.375).

The Big Ten tournament was played at Target Field with dozens of spectators. Every crowd shot was a humbling moment for the Big Ten. And the Gophers.

"It was embarrassing for us not to be at Target Field," the Gophers' Matt Fiedler said earlier this season.

Fiedler is a junior and played at St. Paul Academy. He said the problem in 2015 wasn't as much talent as attitude.

This time around, the Gophers had the attitude and a cause with Oakes (now in hospice), and the largest crowd in the four years of the new Siebert Field — 1,701 — showed up Friday to see them add a championship.