I don’t need to remind you that the Minnesota Golden Gophers lost on Saturday, who they lost to, or the implications of that loss, so let’s get to it.
What is your Tweet-length (280 characters or less) summary of the Gophers’ 38-17 loss to Wisconsin?
Ustreet: Never punt.
gopherguy05: Sigh x 70.
GopherNation: Missed opportunity but this won’t be the last time we are in this position.
IowaGopher: Well that was an unfortunate turn of events.
mowe0018: I am a crestfallen man in search of an axe.
GoAUpher: Monday haiku:
Well the game was poop.
The rest of the day was perfect.
Still a great season.
zipsofakron: At the very least I’m glad I got to go ape-shit crazy for a hot minute after the Rashod Bateman touchdown in the first quarter.
To borrow a Fleck-ism, who is your pick for “Nekton of the Week” from the game?
Ustreet: Rashod Bateman had himself an absolute game.
gopherguy05: Bateman is the insane stud we all know. If he is not a preseason All-American candidate next fall, then throw the system away.
GopherNation: Bateman is so good, watching him next year is going to be a real treat.
wildcat00: Bateman is a superstar and I think he’s set himself and the Gophers up well for the future.
IowaGopher: His name rhymes with Schmashod Schmateman.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: Looks like everyone else said it for me. He showed up, even on the interception.
mowe0018: RB. Know the name.
GoAUpher: UStreet and GopherNation, for bringing gopherguy05 and I some Dilly Bars at halftime. Dilly Bar consumption in the snow is an important tradition regardless of the outcome of a game.
zipsofakron: Rashod Bateman. He is who we thought he was.
In a loss during which the Gophers experienced failure in a variety of different facets, what aspect was most disappointing?
Ustreet: 21 point swing in less than five minutes.
gopherguy05: The defense disappearing to start the second half. You still had the game in your grasp, but then it was gone in a flash. You gave up way too many big plays that didn’t involve the name Jonathan Taylor.
GopherNation: The inability by the offensive line to win more battles up front really disappointed me. Daniel Faalele going out early certainly didn’t help, but their lack of push in the first quarter when it was 2nd and 2 where we eventually punted. And the same thing when it was 2nd and Goal from the 4 in the second half. Get some push, get those short yardage situations, and this game looks very different.
wildcat00: What happened to the defense? I mean, Wisconsin isn’t nearly as good as Minnesota made them look.
IowaGopher: The offensive line was a mess after Faalele went down, but the defense looked lost in the second half. It was an uncharacteristic performance from Joe Rossi’s unit, giving up big plays and allowing the game to slip out of reach late.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: The lack of aggressiveness from the coaching staff.
mowe0018: Coaching staff and their poor decision making. Plus being absolutely out classed a year after you had turned the tables seems bizarre.
GoAUpher: The defense getting porous unexpectedly was not pleasing, but if I’m honest the thing that sticks with me the most is the decision to punt on fourth down when we had the wind. I love this staff, but I do think there needs to be a willingness to adjust their risk analysis. We’ve all heard the “Fleck learned from Jim Tressel” line and while that’s good, there are a few things that I don’t think work as well when it comes to Tressel type decision-making when you don’t have Ohio State talent. I prefer when Minnesota embraces a hungry, attacking style of offense, even as it goes with a clock management pacing.
In this particular scenario, the reason to punt is that you assume your defemse will hold up all game and you don’t have to get more points in the most favorable wind direction before the fourth quarter. If that’s true, then you can trust your defense to hold from that position on the field if you don’t make it.
Senior Day did not quite go as planned for Minnesota. Who from this graduating class will the Gophers miss most next year?
Ustreet: Antoine Winfield and it’s not particularly close. (Editor’s Note: Winfield is not a senior, but is expected to declare early for the NFL Draft.)
gopherguy05: Winfield will be the top of the list. I still worry about replacing Kamal Martin and Thomas Barber, but hope that an additional off-season of development can get our next set of linebackers Big Ten ready. Carter Coughlin will also be tough to replace just for his intangibles, if nothing else.
GopherNation: Coughlin and
Winston Delat #46 are going to be the biggest losses for me. Defensive end, particularly getting a consistent pass rush with just four guys, has been a real weakness for this team. Losing those two is not going to help.
wildcat00: I think Carter Coughlin will be the biggest loss, because of both experience and leadership.
IowaGopher: I can see potential replacements for Coughlin, Martin, and Barber on the roster. I have no idea who can step in for Winfield.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: We’ve had some linebackers through the years. We’ve had some defensive linemen through the years. But we’ve never had anyone like AWJ. Not even Tyrone Carter. How we replace him will tell me a lot about how this program is built going forward.
mowe0018: All aforementioned players seem like they will be tough to replace. But then again, we say that every year. Hope springs eternal.
GoAUpher: Maybe Winfield decides to hang out for another season. I’m gonna just dream that dream for a bit. (I mean he won’t but give me this)
Now that you’ve had at least 24 hours to process the loss, how do you reconcile such a historic season with such a deflating finish?
Ustreet: There is still the bowl game to get to 11 wins, but I would have taken 10-2 at the beginning of the season.
gopherguy05: Even a day later it’s insanely frustrating. But as Street says above, if you can give it a bit more time, decompress, and reset your overall view on things not in the short term, 10-2 with the potential to still go 11-2 and play in a New Year’s Day bowl game is pretty damn amazing.
GopherNation: It was a great season and I am so thrilled with where this program is at right now. This loss was disappointing because we were so close, but we will be in these games again.
wildcat00: This game was a bummer, yes, but I cannot be disappointed about a season where the Gophers have already won 10 games and have a shot at 11. Let’s not act like an unprecedentedly great season is now bad because we didn’t make the Big Ten title game.
IowaGopher: This wasn’t the dream season we all hoped it would be when the Gophers were sitting at 9-0 with a win over then No. 4-ranked Penn State, but I don’t know how the program’s first 10-win regular season since 1905 can regarded as anything but a success. Disappointing finish, for sure, but they’ll have another chance soon enough.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: I predicted 10-2 at the start of the year, and now I’m mad that it happened. This staff even has me changing my best.
mowe0018: I hate losing to our two biggest rivals regardless of the outcome of the rest of the season. Winning a lot is fun though. National exposure was great all season (or at least the latter half). Hopefully the 2019 season will be known as the stepping stone to the beginning of a “dynasty” of sorts.
zipsofakron: This season will provide memories for a lifetime. Isn’t that what we’re after at the end of the day? It’s been a long, long time since Gopher football was appointment television. Guys, GAMEDAY WAS HERE.
GoAUpher: We live in a world where Minnesota is 10-2 and we’re all feeling disappointed. Just consider how bizarre that would sound to you last season. If that isn’t enough, also realize this happened with a staff that recognizes that we’re disappointed, recognizes why we’re disappointed, and is led by a man who doesn’t even attempt to deflect that disappointment by pointing to “TEN WINS!” and instead takes full responsibility for the sadness. At the same time, Coach Fleck is rightfully saying, “Keep your belief, disappointment doesn’t last forever.” It’s a good message. We’re right to feel this way. Saturday’s game sucked. But this was still an awesome year, Penn State still happened, and we can still have more of this. It’s the end of a regular season, not the end of the tale of this program.
Let’s end on a lighter note. The Gophers are likely headed to a New Year’s Day bowl game. If you could create your own bowl game and pick the sponsor, where would the game be held and who (or what) would be the sponsor? The more ridiculous, the better.
Ustreet: Now you have a friend in the bowl business. The Shane Company Bowl located in Minnetonka at the corner of 394 and Hopkins crossroad. One team scores eight, the other scores 5. You’re welcome for having that stuck in your head the rest of the day.
gopherguy05: The CFL Bowl. Take two mediocre college football teams and make them play on a CFL field in the middle of Winnipeg the last week of December. Using CFL rules. And no wearing hoodies. Short sleeves only. If it’s good enough for CFL legend Bud Grant, it’s good enough for today’s players. Looks like Nebraska will accept the inaugural invite in 2020.
GopherNation: In the spirit of getting crappy jingles stuck in your head, I’ll suggest the 1-877-Kars 4 Kids Bowl. Instead of a sweet grab bag of electronics for the players, they all get a rehabbed car that was donated. Donate your cars today.
wildcat00: The Jello Salad Bowl; so Minnesota it can only be played on the permafrost of TCF Bank Stadium late in December.
IowaGopher: I would bring back the Blockbuster Bowl, and it would be held in the parking lot of the last remaining Blockbuster store in Bend, Oregon. Participating players from both teams would get their choice of a previously-viewed DVD and one box of movie candy.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: The Target Bowl played at either Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium, or the Vikings practice facilities. It needs to be a showdown between SEC and Fun Belt teams, and it needs to be as close to January 1st as possible.
mowe0018: Budweiser Bowl. St. Louis, MO. Edward Jones Dome.
GoAUpher: The Utqiagvik Bowl, sponsored by the Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation and held in Utqiagvik, Alaska (the northernmost city in the US). Formally known as the Barrow Bowl, it was renamed in 2016 when the town’s name was change by referendum. The UB is played on the Winter Solstice when twilight lasts for a mere three hours. The sun doesn’t go over the horizon in Utqiagvik from mid November through mid January (that’s right, the 30 Days of Night vampire horror film was based on how daylight actually works up there).
The game features two SEC teams that didn’t make it to bowl eligibility. Which two teams is determined by forcing the head coaches of those schools to sit in ice baths. The two coaches who get out first win the honor of having their teams play in the least hospitable climate imaginable for Southern teams. Yurts for the teams are sponsored every year by Alaska Airlines, who provides the non-stop passenger flights from Anchorage to Utqiagvik. Swag bags include copies of the 30 Days of Night DVD box set, a year’s supply of whale blubber, and lifetime insurance coverage designed to offset the loss of any digits or limbs to frostbite.
zipsofakron: The White Castle Steam-Grilled Bowl. Crave Cases for all!