The Gophers men's basketball game had a big win Monday. The Wild played the defending Stanley Cup champs Tuesday. The Wolves have new players in the mix Wednesday. And those are just the warmups in a week of local statement games.

You might look at the Gophers football team's game against Big Ten West-leading Northwestern as too daunting a task to take seriously, but let's examine the Wildcats a little more. They're 6-1 in the Big Ten, sure, but they're just 6-4 overall. And four of their conference wins came by four points or fewer. This is a game in which the Gophers should be able to compete.

And Sunday, perhaps the biggest of them all: Vikings at Bears. I keep waiting for the Bears to be frauds — something we talked about on this week's Access Vikings podcast — and the body of contrary evidence continues to mount. There's a good chance the winner Sunday ends up winning the division.

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