A reader named Jeff started out a thoughtful recent e-mail with the line, "You seem to fancy yourself a math guy," which is both 1) true and 2) a good way to get me to read more.
The body of the e-mail was about how Gophers running back Shannon Brooks should have gone to the ground after gaining a first down against Illinois on Saturday instead of scoring a touchdown — with the correct assertion that doing so would have let the Gophers run out the clock for a 24-23 victory while scoring a TD gave the Illini hope (at least until the Gophers effectively dashed it with a successful two-point conversion, making it a nine-point lead).
It's counterintuitive but true. It also led this "math guy" to reflect on a few more stunning numbers from the world of Minnesota sports:
2: The number of balls caught in the past four games by Vikings receiver Mike Wallace, for a total of 26 yards. It's not as if Teddy Bridgewater hasn't looked Wallace's way at all, since he does have 14 targets in that span. But yes, just two catches. Two. He didn't catch any passes Sunday in the loss to Green Bay.
A combination of dropped passes (including a costly one early against the Packers), missed deep connections with Teddy Bridgewater (many of them overthrows by the QB) and the emergence of Stefon Diggs in an otherwise run-oriented offense have made Wallace, a major offseason acquisition, little more than a bystander lately.
Even more telling: His longest reception this season has been for a mere 22 yards. And he has just one touchdown catch after getting 10 TDs for Miami last season.
0: Goals through 19 games for Wild forward Jason Pominville. It's hard to believe a player who has reached 20 goals seven times in his career (and 30 three times, including 2013-14, his first full season with the Wild) is stuck on zero with the season nearly a quarter gone.
For his career, Pominville, who turns 33 next week, has scored on 11 percent of his shots. Two years ago with the Wild, that figure was a robust 13.3 percent. Last year it dipped to 7.1 percent. And this year, on 40 shots, it's of course 0 percent.
3-29-1: The combined record of the Vikings, Gophers football and Gophers men's basketball against the Packers and Badgers in recent years.
The Vikings are 1-10-1 against the Packers this decade. The Gophers are 0-11 against the Badgers from 2004 to '14. And the Gophers men's basketball team is 2-8 in its past 10 games against Wisconsin.
The Vikings failed in their most recent attempt to reverse the trend Sunday. The Gophers have a realistic chance of knocking off the Badgers at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, but we'll see.