The Minnesota Gophers football team beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday convincingly, but they still need to win one more game.
It was a record setting day for the Minnesota Gophers football team on Saturday afternoon. In the Gophers’ rout of Nebraska, Demry Croft set the school record for most rushing yards in a game for a quarterback. Croft was the leading rusher in the game with 183 yards on only 10 carries. Croft’s record is impressive, but the Golden Gophers’ record under P.J. Fleck still isn’t impressive.
After the win on Saturday, the Gophers have an overall record of 5-5 and a 2-5 mark in the Big Ten. There are two games left of the season and the Gophers really need to win one of the last two to make it feel like the season wasn’t a complete waste.
Expectations coming into the season may have been too high, but the Gophers still should be closer to the middle of the pack in the conference than in the cellar. Minnesota should have beaten Purdue and had chances to defeat Maryland and Iowa this season, all teams that the Gophers could have beaten. One of those wins would have guaranteed the Gophers a .500 record for 2017.
The typical rule of thumb is that six wins are needed to make a bowl game, but that’s not exactly the case anymore. There are so many bowl games now that five win teams are making bowl appearances and the Gophers would be at the top of the heap of five win teams to be chosen for a bowl. The Gophers need to make it easy on everyone and win another game to get to that magical six wins to guarantee a bowl.
No matter what, the Gophers wouldn’t be going to an impressive bowl. There is no doubt that Minnesota would be heading to one of those bowl games that I could make the name up and you wouldn’t know the difference, but the bowl game appearance is still important for a program.
Making a bowl game gives the team another month to practice and another month for Fleck to integrate his system into the program at the University of Minnesota. It is a no-lose situation for the Gophers.
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Winning one of the next two games for the Gophers is much easier said than done. Next week the Gophers will travel to the shores of Lake Michigan to take on the very solid Northwestern Wildcats, so not an easy victory. The last game of the year will have the highly touted Wisconsin Badgers coming into TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers haven’t won Paul Bunyan’s Axe since 2003. The Gophers haven’t lost by less than 10 since 2009.
It’s not going to be an easy road, but the Gophers showed improvement against Nebraska. Yes, I realize that it doesn’t take a lot to look impressive against Nebraska.
Some Gopher faithful want to write off Fleck before he barely gets his feet wet in the Big Ten conference, but a .500 record would make some of those fears start to melt away. If the Gophers win the Axe, there will be a statue of Fleck on campus before the kids leave for semester break.
Next up for the Gophers is the matchup with the Wildcats. Kick off time from Illinois is still to be determined.