Well howdy there? How’s it going? Hot enough for ya?
It’s Minnesota week, and that can mean only two things: Grain Belt references and a delicate balance of overconfidence and self-loathing. So maybe grab a Grain Belt Elite and kick back and enjoy yourself for the next week.
So...yeah. That was...a thing? 9-4 is good, right? Winning the Axe is always a good thing. And winning a bowl game? Icing on the cake.
Minnesota went into the season with Tanner Morgan, Mo Ibrahim, and Chris Autman-Bell leading the offense.
And then Ibrahim’s leg exploded in the opener against Ohio State, and that took a huge amount of air out of the balloon of fans (and the team, one would assume). And then we fucked around with Miami Hydroxide. And then we put the pillow over a lifeless buffalo to the tune of 69 yards of total offense in Boulder. And then...and then...
And then Minnesota lost it’s 21-game non conference winning streak by pissing, shitting, and vomiting all over ourselves against Bowling Green. It was one of the most infuriating, depressing, reprehensible non-Iowa losses I’ve ever seen. More on the Hawkeyes in a bit, by the way.
And then the Gophers rattled off wins against allegedly good Purdue, Nebraska, Maryland, and Northwestern. 4-1 in the B1G and humming along nicely. Everything is going just fine when...
A loss to hapless, listless Illinois. Bert came in doing what everyone knows Bert is going to do, and we had no real answer and lost to him. Again. In my opinion, this is the most infurating loss of the year.
And then we followed it up with a 5-point loss in Iowa City. At some point PJ Fleck needs to stop beating himself when the Gophers play Iowa, right? Right?
And then the Gophers finished up the season with a win over Indiana and a bludgeoning of wisconsin. The only time the badgers found the endzone was off a pick-six from Morgan, and they were more likely to score in a convent than they were against the Gophers defense.
The year finished with a boring win over West Virginia in some shit bowl in Arizona, and between that and the firing of moron/offensive coordinator Mike Sanford there was great rejoicing.
Minnesota heads into the season with tanner Morgan, Mo Ibrahim, and Chris Autman-Bell leading the offense.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
Kirk Ciarrocca is back at OC. That should be interesting. That means that the slant should be replacing the YOLOball as the primary route on the passing tree. So that’s different. But the institutional ignoring of the TE position will probably continue.
The OL has John Michael Schmitz back anchoring things and some guys who can potentially do a great job, but not the experience here.
The DL is going to have a rather fresh look too, outside of Thomas Rush and Trill Carter.
The LBs and Secondary should be just fine. It’s hard to not feel good about a group returning Cody Lindenberg, Mariano Sori-Marin, Braelin Oliver, Terell Smith, and Justin Walley.
The schedule is what the schedule is. We get three rather winnable non-conference games. We get a pair of crossovers that aren’t ideal in Sparty and a whiteout at PSU along with a game against Rutgers. And we get the two football teams in the quadrangle in Iowa and wisconsin. And then there’s everybody else. Can Minnesota win the West? Absolutely. Should we expect it? Probably not. Some ridiculous record like 10-2 isn’t off the table, but Minnesota needs to show consistency and the ability to keep integrating new players into the system while relying on old (VERY OLD) hands to guide the team. This team goes as far as Tanner Morgan takes them, whether it’s successfully handing off 60 times a game or picking the spots to run play action and hit a slant. This team goes as far as the DTs take them, with a whole metric shitton of new guys eating double teams in the interior. It feels like the old standard of “Well we got to a bowl game...” isn’t good enough because that’s the (very reasonable) expectation of this team now.
PJ Fleck is now entering his 6th season at Minnesota. This is now completely and thoroughly his program. He’s gotten nearly everything he needs to do things his way, and the results have been pretty damn good by Minnesota standards. There are only so many more chances to get to Indy under the current system where the East has an elite team in Ohio State, a couple very good/great teams in Michigan and PSU, and the West is a whole bunch of teams that are varying degrees of broken. wisconsin doesn’t have shit on offense other than an overrated RB. Iowa doesn’t have an overrated RB. Purdue is supposed to be good, but we’ve heard that before. Illinois is going to be problematic for Minnesota because we’ve never beaten Bert. You never know what you’re going to get with Northwestern. Nebraska is
Anyway, the time may as well be now. The biggest hurdle for Minnesota has constantly been Minnesota, and there’s no time like the present to finally clear that hurdle.
Can I get you a Grain Belt?
This poll is closed
Sure, since you’re already up.
As long as you’ve got one for yourself, yeah.
Oh no, I couldn’t possibly. I guess maybe one more.