MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – With a 8-2 record and four-straight wins in the Big 10, the Gopher football has been the feel-good story of the fall.
Now in year three of the Coach Jerry Kill era, the perception of the Gopher football program is changing.
Gopher linebacker Damien Wilson says fans have been shocked by the team’s success.
“They’re getting used to it,” Wilson said. “Everybody’s excited around here.”
This week, the Gophers cracked the Sports Illustrated Coaches Poll, coming in 25th on the list. As they climb in the polls, the attendance is also climbing.
It takes a little over 50,000 fans to sell out TCF Bank Stadium, which has only happened twice so far this season.
Taylor Mitsch, a senior in the marching band, says that when students fill the stands on game day, the experience is heightened for everyone.
“It really does motivate the team and show we actually care how they do, even when they’re not winning,” Mitsch said.
She says that Gopher football games haven’t always been that exciting for students.
“It’s been really awesome to see this turn around and see the Gophers grow as a team, especially under Coach Kill,” she said. “He’s been great for the program.”
Players also want to see the stands filled. At recent games, the top of the student section has been empty.
The university says they hold about 10,000 tickets for students, and you need a U of M ID to sit in the section.
Students regularly pack into the lower bowl closer to the field. When that happens, extra rows at the top of the section are left empty.
A competitive schedule and the Gopher’s winning streak have created a steady interest in tickets. Mike Nowakowski of Ticket King says tickets for next week’s border battle are turning fast.
Depending on how Wisconsin does this weekend, the prices could climb as demand goes up.
“In years past, it was all Badger fans buying tickets from us,” Nowakowski said. “This year, we’re seeing a lot more Gopher fans. We’re shipping a lot less tickets to Green Bay or Milwaukee.”
For now, the Gopher bandwagon rolls on, picking up more fans along the way.
“I don’t think we’re going to have a problem with attendance,” Wilson said.