Jerry Kill pushed his way through the jumping, swaying and shouting mass of players circled in the Minnesota locker room, finding space in the middle of the crowd so he could get down with some dance moves of his own.
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.”
How’s this for a paradigm shift in Big Ten football? Minnesota has won straight three conference games and is favored, ever so slightly, to beat Penn State.
The University of North Dakota and the University of Minnesota will renew their storied hockey rivalry in three years. The two NCAA Division I powerhouses have agreed to terms on a two-year deal that will renew a rivalry that dates back to 1930.
Minnesota coach Jerry Kill has a well-timed bye week to recover from his latest seizure. Team spokesman Paul Rovnak said Kill stayed at home on Sunday to rest. He had an episode the day before that kept him from traveling to the game at Michigan. The Gophers don’t play again until Oct. 19, so this is a low-key week. Assistant coaches held a brief meeting with players before leaving the facility.
Devin Gardner threw a 24-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass to Devin Funchess late in the first half and No. 19 Michigan pulled away to rout Minnesota 42-13 on Saturday. The Wolverines (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) relied on their running game to take pressure off the turnover-prone Gardner. He didn’t throw an interception for the first time since making his first start as a quarterback last year at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers (4-2, 0-2) were without coach Jerry Kill for an entire game for the first time because of his epilepsy. He had a seizure Saturday morning, when he planned to travel to Michigan to coach in the game, and remained home to rest in Minnesota.
Jake Rudock threw for one touchdown and ran for another and Iowa beat Minnesota on both sides of the ball in a 23-7 victory on Saturday. Mark Weisman rushed for 147 yards on 24 carries, and Mike Meyer made three of his four field goal attempts to help the Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-0) start the Big Ten with a bang. After losing their opener to Northern Illinois, they’ve outscored their last two opponents 82-10. Senior linebackers Christian Kirksey, James Morris and Anthony Hitchens led a stifling effort on defense, including interceptions by Kirksey and Morris of Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson. Nelson hadn’t played in two weeks because of an injury, but he started ahead of Mitch Leidner for the Gophers (4-1, 0-1).
The St. John’s University Johnnies beat the St. Thomas Tommies in a shocking 20-18 win, part of a legendary college football rivalry which brought fans out in droves Saturday to St. Paul. With new head coach Gary Fashing, the Johnnies looked like they were going to meet the same fate as they had in the last three years when the Tommies took an early 8-0 lead. But they bounced back by taking advantage of turnovers, which Sam Sura did this often at South St. Paul High School.
Gopher head coach Jerry Kill received a spirited show of support before Saturday’s game against San Jose State. Hundreds of people gathered outside TCF Bank Stadium for a rally organized by the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota. The outpour of support comes after Kill suffered a seizure during last week’s game. It was third time in the last three years he missed part of a game because of his epilepsy.
Quarterback Mitch Leidner rushed for 151 yards and four touchdowns to lift Minnesota to a 43-24 victory over San Jose State on Saturday. Leidner was filling in for injured starter Philip Nelson, who was out with a bad hamstring. He also passed for 71 yards as the Golden Gophers improved to 4-0. Gophers coach Jerry Kill returned to the sideline a week after missing the second half because of an epileptic seizure and made it through the game without incident.
An incoming University of Minnesota freshman hockey player has been indefinitely suspended after a DWI arrest Saturday. Gabe Guertier, 18, was pulled over by University Police early Saturday morning. He was detained at the Hennepin County Jail for several hours after being charged with fourth-degree DWI. Gopher mens hockey coach Don Lucia announced Sunday that Guertier would be suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules. His suspension will be re-evaluated in November.
University of Minnesota Athletics Director Norwood Teague joined Dave Lee on the WCCO Morning Thursday to share the excitement of Gopher football opening night.
On Thursday, the Gopher football team tries to start the season right at TCF Bank Stadium against UNLV. The heat is on for the program, and this time literally. The extreme heat means more players will play in game one. The Rebels took the favored Gophers to three overtimes in last year’s opener.
Philip Nelson was a gifted quarterback from Mankato West, where he was turning heads in the Big Ten. He committed to Minnesota, and in his sophomore season he’s progressing like he did in high school. “It’s a lot like high school when it comes to each year you play, it slows down noticeably, and that’s where I’m at right now. It’s taken a step slower for me, and I think as an offense we all feel the same way,” Nelson said.
When the Big Ten grows to 14 teams, the conference’s longtime football powers will literally be out of Minnesota’s half of the league. But the Gophers didn’t get any breaks on the upcoming schedules. In 2014 and 2015, when Maryland and Rutgers are added to the East, teams will only play two out-of-division opponents. Well, Minnesota drew Michigan and Ohio State for those two foes. In 2016, the Big Ten goes to nine-game conference schedules.