On Saturday, October 9th 1993 the 1-4 Gophers hosted the 1-3 Purdue Boilermakers for a 6 PM kickoff in front of an announced crowd of 31,293. There wasn't anywhere near that many, but I was there with my dad. Minnesota had started the season with losses to Penn St., Kansas St., the Marshall Faulk-led San Diego St., and Indiana and a solitary win against POWERHOUSE Indiana St., while Purdue had beat Western Michigan and lost to NC State, Notre Dame, and Illinois. To be fair to both bad football teams, those were some very impressive opponents. Sadly, most people didn't watch the fireworks that followed. Minnesota defeated the Boilermakers 59-56 in a game that featured 1,184 yards (625 for the Gophers, 559 for the Boilermakers), 5 TD receptions for Omar Douglas, 402 yards passing by
Tim Schade Scott Eckers in relief of an ineffective Tim Schade, 171 yards and 4 TDs for some punk kid named Mike Alstott, and a lowly 149 yards and a TD for GOD DAMN CHRIS DARKINS. It was an amazing back-and forth battle between two teams that absolutely refused to play defense. Minnesota needed to march 91 yards in the last 2 minutes to break the tie, and did so with a 51 yard completion to Antonio Carter with 60 seconds left, prior a few more plays setting up an 18-yard Mike Chalberg FG with 8 seconds left. Gophers Coach Jim Wacker (RIP, you magnificent goofy son of a gun) said "It was the wildest and hariest game I've ever been in. It was agony, and then ecstasy. It was just crazy." The Boilermakers spiraled out of control to a 1-10 record following the heartbreaking defeat, while the Gophers skyrocketed to a 4-7 season that ended just outside the top 25. (PLEASE NOTE THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANITY WOULD TAKE PLACE LATER IN THAT SEASON!)
Why would I bring up a game from 22 years ago that maybe 50,000 people saw both in-person and on TV? Because this Saturday's game between Purdue and Minnesota is not going to be good. Neither team has put up a performance that inspires fans or pundits to believe that good times are right around the corner, although Purdue does have a win over POWERHOUSE Indiana St. Injuries have depleted the Gophers to the point of 20 (TWENTY!) players wearing non-contact jerseys in practice yesterday, in addition to the players that are out. Northwestern so thoroughly shut down the Gophers that even the most ardent rodents had to just throw up their hands and concede that we're in trouble. The Boilermakers gave Sparty all they could handle, but came up short. Nobody knows how much more time Darrell Hazell has leading Purdue, but it probably isn't long without a few notable wins. From all outward appearances, this has the making of an exhilarating 12-9 game that leaves both fan bases disgusted. I honestly cannot think of a single reason for the non-invested (read: Gopher fans, Boilermakers fans, and degenerate gamblers) to watch this game. I implore you: save yourself and watch Georgia Tech vs. Clemson instead.
Throughout the 1990's these teams put on shows that entertained all that were lucky enough to watch them. Maybe some day, perhaps, we could get another display of offensive beauty from the Gophers and Purdue like we did in 1993.