The Gophers, following one of their biggest victories in years, will try to avoid the classic college football “letdown game” Saturday against Northwestern. Loosely defined as a team losing a favorable matchup after a big victory, letdown games have haunted every program. Here are two examples from this season, and a look into the Gophers’ past:
Two from 2014: From upstarts to upset
Ann Arbor curse? Utah pulled a Minnesota a week before the Gophers did, winning 26-10 at Michigan on Sept. 20. The undefeated Utes traveled back to Salt Lake City, lined up against Washington State as a 13-point favorite a week later, and lost 28-27.
Hoosiers hot ... for six days: Indiana ripped a victory away from No. 18 Missouri on Sept. 20 and put themselves on the sleeper-team radar. A week later, underdog Maryland steamrolled Indiana on its own field on the way to a 37-15 upset.
The Gophers: One good, one bad
The 2013 Gophers were set up for a letdown game after beating Nebraska at home on Oct. 26. But there would be no such failure, as the Gophers held on (42-39) against the Hoosiers in Bloomington, Ind., the following Saturday. A victory over Penn State the following week gave the Gophers three victories in a row.
In 2008, the 7-1 Gophers had themselves in the top 20 under Tim Brewster, with just a respectable loss (34-21 at Ohio State) on the wrong side of the ledger, after they won at Purdue on Oct. 25. A week later, oddsmakers were giving Northwestern, playing without its starting QB and running back, seven points in the Metrodome. The Gophers stumbled through their homecoming game, and with 12 seconds remaining the Wildcats housed an interception for the victory.