Good afternoon/evening college football fans. I’m coming to you live from the Reser Stadium press box, on a beautiful, sunny day with temperatures in the low 80s. Looking at sky, I see little evidence of the smoke from wildfires in the Willamette Valley this week. Should be a great night for football, but of course, there are few that aren’t.
I expect a tight game tonight, especially since both teams’ weaknesses so far this season – Gophers on offense, Oregon State on defense – match up against each other. I would expect the Gophers open things up a bit more on offense than they did in the opener against Buffalo, provided the offensive line gets more push up front. I predicted 24-20 in favor of the Gophers in the newspaper, so I’ll stick with that until I’m proven wrong.
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck will try to buck a trend tonight. If he wins, he will become the first Minnesota coach – permanent or interim – to win his road debut with the Gophers since Murray Warmath in 1954. Entering Saturday, 10 others lost their Gophers road debuts. The closest to winning was Jerry Kill in 2011, whose team fell 19-17 at USC.
Other odds and ends from this trip to Corvallis:
** Typically in a college town, the night before a home game has the downtown buzzing with both home and visiting fans. That wasn’t quite the case on Friday night in Corvallis. Sure, there were Gophers fans checking out the local hot spots, but noticeable was the lack of an overwhelming amount of orange-and-black clad Oregon State fans.
There’s a good reason for that. The school’s fall semester doesn’t start until Sept. 20, so the majority of students likely haven’t arrived yet. That showed in the Beavers’ home opener against Portland State last week, when the school announced an attendance of 34,737.
Friday was the last day of the final session of summer school, and there’s an 11-day break before fall classes start. Saturday’s game against the Gophers was the Beavers’ second home game of the season, and that leaves only four more during the fall semester. Oregon State’s first home game of the fall session will be Sept. 30 vs. Washington.
** The Oregon State marching band did a little bar hopping Friday night, stopping in downtown hotspots and entertaining customers with the school song and other numbers. A highlight: “Seven Nation Army’’ by the White Stripes.
** The Gophers weren’t the only Big Ten team in the area this weekend. Nebraska played at Oregon on Saturday afternoon in Eugene, about 45 miles south of Corvallis. Anecdotal reports had some Gophers fans planning to take in the Huskers vs. Ducks and then hustling back to Eugene for the nightcap.