anything we do— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) November 13, 2020
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The 2020 Gophers came into the season riding the hype train, before being slammed back to an 0-2 reality by Michigan and Maryland to start the year. Since then, any excitement surrounding this 9-game season has been completely and utterly squashed.
Between the Vikings winning two-straight games and the Timberwolves drafting #1 overall next week, the Gophers have fallen to the back of the sports section. I’ve even seen Richard Pitino’s squad grab more headlines this week. That’s pretty incredible, when you think about all of the love Gopher football was getting during their magical run in 2019.
Beat Iowa and they’ll row
PJ Fleck might not believe in momentum, but I do, and it can swing quickly in this town. Our thirst for success in the Twin Cities, combined with how seldom we quench it, leaves our mouths constantly watering for the next drop… wherever that may come from. If the next opportunity lies with the Gopher football team, then we’ll be happy to drink up the hope they provide.
Climbing out of an 0-2 hole and taking the Floyd of Rosedale trophy back from the Hawkeyes would absolutely get the Minnesota Gophers hype-train back on its tracks. Let’s not forget either, what Iowa did to PJ Fleck’s magical run in 2019. Minnesota was 9-0 when they rolled into Kinnick Stadium just to be upended by Ferentz and Co.
This year, the W is there for the taking again. This isn’t the consistent Iowa team of years past. They are relying on a gimmick offense and an unproven quarterback to score points. If the Gophers can put points on the board and their week 3 defense shows up (instead of weeks 1 and 2), Fleck and Co should be able to hang a W on the Hawkeyes and claim the pig for their first time in his tenure. The Hawkeye run defense is its best attribute so, if Mohamed Ibrahim (the best RB in CFB) can run on them, he can run on anyone.
1-0 in Big Ten West
As bad as the Gophers’ season started, both losses came to Big Ten East opponents (Michigan, Maryland). They’ve only played one game against their own division and they beat Illinois handily.
A win over Iowa on Friday night would make them 2-0 in the West and put Minnesota back in contention for a Big Ten West title. They’re yet to play Purdue or Northwestern, who sit atop the West and we still don’t know if Wisconsin will even qualify for the Big Ten Championship game, after missing two weeks because of COVID-19 spread.
Now or never
That means the schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Gophers after Friday, and the results will tell us a lot about how 2020 could finish for the maroon and gold. Purdue and Northwestern both beat Iowa in weeks 1 and 2 and we get both to follow up this weekend. Then, it’s the Badgers in Camp Randall.
Beat the Hawkeyes and anything could happen. Lose… and it’s going to be difficult, on paper, to find the next Minnesota Gophers win.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan