The best football in town easily is being played on the campus of the University of Minnesota. I was at TCF Saturday to witness the 54th meeting between the Cornhuskers of Nebraska and the Gophers.
After 16 straight losses dating back to 1963, the Gophers rallied from a 10-0 deficit and won their second straight game in the Big Ten 34-23, beating 25th-ranked Nebraska for the first time since 1960. Nebraska travels with a large following,
and it was clear that TCF Stadium had at least 15-20,000 Nebraska fans in the house. The Gophers’ success helped keep the Cornhusker fans quiet.
David Cobb ran for 144 yards, leading a powerful ground attack that pushed the Cornhuskers all over TCF Stadium. The Gophers ran at will for 271 yards, improved to 6-2, and are Bowl-eligible. Head Coach Jerry Kill continues his leave of absence dealing with his treatment for epilepsy. Defensive Coordinator Tracy Claeys has served as acting head coach for the second week. Kill was at the game and talked to his team at half time.
Much attention has been given to Kill’s health situation in recent weeks as he deals with this condition, but his veteran staff has done a great job of managing this football team and the players are fighting for their head coach. That is clear — this team is playing its best football right now.
The loyalty and love for Kill is evident among his staff. He has seven coaches who have been with him for at least 13 years: Claeys (19 years), Eric Klein (20 years), Rob Reeves (18 years), and Matt Limegrover (15 years).
There’s no panic among the players who understand the situation and are obviously okay with it and are going about the business of playing football at a high level. That’s the most important thing — this group is moving forward, no excuses. They are accountable, and with four games left — Indiana at home, then to Penn State and Wisconsin and finishing at Michigan State — the Gophers are on the move, and that is a good thing.
I’m impressed with the ability of Kill’s staff to leave egos aside and work together. The proof is in the results. Last year, Nebraska beat the Gophers at Lincoln 38-14. The many thousands of Nebraska fans who came to Minneapolis assumed the Gophers were a sure win. Not so fast — the Gophers are on the move.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to [email protected], or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.
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