Game Preview: The Game of the Century (For Minnesota) is Finally Here!
With every win, week after week, the Penn State game gained much greater importance.
At first, this game just seemed like a typical, semi-interesting trophy game on the schedule that would allow fans to watch a top-ranked team come into Minneapolis. Now, this may be the Golden Gophers football team's most important game in decades, and I could not be more excited!
Who'd a thought Minnesota would be 8-0 through eight games? Sure, our schedule looked easy and Minnesota fans definitely speculated we COULD be undefeated by the time we play Penn State, but I have heard the over optimism from Minnesota fans countless times before so it just blended in as another #MinnesotaFantasy.
But I am here to say the Gophers are 8-0 and we aren't dreaming. We did have an easy schedule but we dominated it despite some struggles early on. We are here now taking on a historic program in Penn State that is also undefeated at 8-0 and is No. 5 in the country and ranked #4 in the recent College Football Playoff rankings.
I could give you all the "Things You Need to Know" about this game like I have done in all my previous game previews such as going into deep detail about stats, milestones, how many games the Gophers have won in a row, last meeting, top players, keys to the game, etc. But I am not going to waste your time when you can already read all that stuff here.
I simply want to give you my own preview and discuss the importance of this game to not only me, but to all Minnesota fans.
As far back as I can remember, I have been a supporter of the maroon and gold especially for the U of M football team. I loved singing along to the Minnesota Rouser on the TV when the Gophers scored a touchdown. In fact, I was so infatuated with the Rouser that I remember singing it to myself to help me spell "Minnesota" on a spelling test in Kindergarten.
And then that passion for the school lead me to attend and eventually graduate from the University of Minnesota. I can now proudly call myself an alum. And after 23 years of being on this planet, I have been waiting for a game like this. A game that could potentially put Minnesota on the map and actually make them relevant.
But enough about me! That is just my story and experience as one Minnesota fan. There are older Minnesota fans out there that have been waiting 50-60 years to see the Gophers compete for national relevancy once again after years of extreme disappointment. I cannot even imagine being a fan for the last 50 years and seeing the team do absolutely nothing. There has certainly been some mediocre seasons resulting in some semi-major bowl bids, but nothing even close to competing for a Big Ten title or national championship.
This year is different! This week is different as a matter of fact! The Penn State game poses a chance for the Gophers to make history and get to a level they have not witnessed in almost 60 years as a program.
It will not be an easy feat to get to 9-0! Penn State's quarterback, Sean Clifford is not only deadly with his arm, but his legs as well. He is third on the team in rushing behind talented running backs Journey Brown and Noah Cain.
The Nittany Lions are practically even with Minnesota in total offensive yards and yards allowed per game. But the thing is, Penn State has played a tougher schedule having defeated both Michigan and Iowa, two top-20 teams. In addition, like I mentioned earlier, Penn State is ranked #4 in this week's College Football Playoff rankings meaning they are in the CFP as of right now. They have as much if not more to play for against Minnesota. They will be hungry for a win!
It will be an extremely tough game for the Gophers, and I know as a Minnesota fan we do not have a huge chance of winning this game. We may very well lose by 10+ points, but you know what? The fact we are 8-0 for the first time since 1941 and are even in the conversation of winning the Big Ten and competing for a College Football Playoff spot is a treat in itself.
I do think, however, Minnesota is a better team than what the rest of the country will give them credit for. And they have a descent shot at winning this game more so than what the national media and the rest of the country thinks.
If Minnesota comes out and properly utilizes the strong weapons they have such as the wide receiver core lead by Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman, and the running game lead by Rodney Smith and passing game lead by quarterback Tanner Morgan, their chances will be pretty damn good to get the upset and shake the college football world.
And of course, this is also a trophy game! We are playing for the Governor's Victory Bell, the trophy we lost in an overtime thriller three years ago in Happy Valley and last won in 2013.
In the end, this game will comedown to turnovers! The Gophers cannot afford to give the Penn State offense extra possessions.
Zero turnovers=success (maybe)!
ESPN College Gameday may not be making the trip to Minneapolis for the first time ever, but that does not take away the fact that this game has huge implications.
Win, and you enter waters that have not been touched for over half a century.
Lose, and you are viewed as the same old Gopher team that cannot get over the hump.
Win or lose, this will be one hell of a game with all the camaraderie and hype surrounding it. I have not felt this much excitement for a Golden Gophers football game in my lifetime, and I will be cheering on the Minnesota Golden Gophers Saturday morning along with the rest of the great state of Minnesota.
Row the Boat, Ski-U-Mah, Go Gophers!