Game Recap: #17 Gophers Defeat #4 Penn State, Row The F-ing Boat!
Words cannot describe!
I was a little teary-eyed after Minnesota defensive back, Jordan Howden intercepted Penn State's pass and it became apparent the Gophers were going to defeat the fourth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions 31-26 and get the Governor's Victory Bell for the first time since 2013. I cannot even put this game into words.
I have watched this team through thick and thin, still tailgating and attending games when they were as bad as 2-9. To see Minnesota now defeat a top five team, at home, and improve to 9-0 for the first time since 1904 was a magical and emotional experience.
I have been waiting for a game like this my whole life where the Gophers could potentially propel themselves into the national spotlight. And not only did a game like that finally arrive, but Minnesota won it! It's like a dream come true!
As you may already know, I was at the game. I rushed the field with the rest of the roaring Minnesota crowd, and was shoulder to shoulder in a pit of pure happiness.
And walking out of the stadium I engaged in conversation with other shocked Gopher fans. I remember telling an older gentlemen that I have been waiting my whole life for a game like this.
"Try 60 years," he said.
Like I mentioned in my game preview, there are U of M football fans that have been following this team for over 50 years. I cannot imagine how emotional this game was for those fans to finally see this team have a program-changing win.
So even though I have been a loyal fan my whole life, this game goes out to the die-hard fans that put up with disaster for over half a century. All those years of staying true to the maroon and gold while sitting through turmoil, witnessing several coaching changes and watching disastrous seasons was all worth it on Saturday.
This was a complete team game, and every single individual on both sides of the ball contributed in this monumental win. But I want to give a shout out to Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan and defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. for both having a spectacular game.
Morgan went 18 of 20 for 339 yards and three touchdowns, and Winfield Jr., who was named the National Defensive Player of the Week, had two huge interceptions that put a dagger in Penn State's offense.
To finally have a smart quarterback that can throw accurately and make the tough throws is a special site being we have been a program without a top-notch quarterback for years. And it is also nice to have a defensive player like Winfield Jr. on the team. His football intelligence is through the roof in how he can read plays from the offense.
I also want to point out that Rashod Bateman had over 200 yards receiving, which is the first time in program-history a player has done that in a Big Ten game. Absolutely stunning!
This team is special! That's all I can really say about it.
Stats are one thing to discuss from this game, but the experience is what matters most! To see TCF Bank Stadium sold out for the first time in four years was a sight in itself. Fans were standing most of the game and screaming their heads off. It was awesome!
But whether or not you watched the game in-person or on TV, this game gave all Minnesota fans an experience they will never forget.
I never truly bought in to the "Row The Boat" mantra before this game. I never really cared for "slogan-based" football. I was skeptical of a coach coming here saying all these motivational words and slogans because words don't win football games, good coaching does. I have been traumatized by former Gophers football head coach, Tim Brewster, who was nothing but a pep-talk filled, high energy cheerleader that turned out to be a terrible head coach. Let's keep the chili hot! Am I right?
If you do not know who Brewster is or don't remember him as the Gophers head football coach, just watch this video! It pretty much sums it all up!
I have said "Row the Boat" here and there over the last couple years, but it was always kind of sarcastic. Now I can confidently say that I am in the boat. Whatever PJ Fleck is doing it's working so let's row the mother F@%$ing boat.
If you can properly utilize a slogan and merge it with your coaching, I think it can be successful, obviously. But I think it takes a lot smarts to do that, not only with the X's and O's in the game of football, but strong leadership and motivational skills as well. Fleck has proven that he has those smarts.
The Gophers are now #7 in the recent AP poll, which is their highest ranking since 1962, and we will know where they stand in College Football Playoff ranking come Tuesday.
Minnesota will travel to Iowa City next weekend to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes and battle it out for the Floyd of Rosedale. The fact that we could go 10-0 is a sight I thought I would never see in my lifetime.
Keep on rowing Minnesota!
Row the Boat, Ski-U-Mah, Go Gophers!