The table is set and the Gophers know what they have to do to make the Big 10 Championship game Dec. 7 in Indianapolis. Beat Wisconsin Saturday and the Gophers win the West Division and hold onto Paul Bunyan’s axe for another year.
And for the first time ever, ESPN’s College GameDay will make the trip to Minnesota and TCF Stadium with Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Kurt Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack covering the three-hour pregame festivities.
Now that’s a great party to attend, I just hope the weather cooperates. After the Gophers took care of Northwestern, I thought they might choose Minnesota, but then I remembered that Michigan hosts Ohio State in the Big House. They wouldn’t dare do it to Minnesota again, would they?
A couple weeks ago Coach PJ Fleck lobbied hard for GameDay to cover the Gophers’ home game against Penn State, but ESPN decided to go to Alabama for the umpteenth time for the No. 2 Crimson Tide’s match up vs. No. 1 LSU. That game was just too big to take a pass on.
Minnesota, who last year went into Wisconsin and trounced the Badgers, need the same effort once again, but it won’t be easy. Wisconsin is playing well and comes in with a 9-2 record and ranked No. 12. The Gophers sit at No. 10, but could easily climb to No. 6 after both one-loss Oregon and Penn State lost. Oklahoma, which sits at No. 9, barely beat un-ranked TCU at home, so Minnesota’s road win was much more impressive.
The Gophers’ historic season moved them to 10-1 in the regular season for the first time in 114 years after they beat Northwestern by 16 points. It was also the first time ever Minnesota won seven Big Ten games in a season. If the cards fall right, the Gophers will either play in the Rose Bowl, the first time since 1962, or possibly be in the Football Playoffs. I know that’s a lot to wish for, so we’ll take it one game at a time.
The Badgers have a great running back in Jonathan Taylor, who is averaging more than 150 yards a game. He probably is the best back in the Big Ten.
As for the game, I’m taking Minnesota!
In the picks, Corinna Wynn has a one-game lead over Holly Carlson and Lynn Taatjes with just the Monday night game remaining. Because of the early deadline due to Thanksgiving, The Pilot went to press Monday afternoon. All three chose Baltimore to beat the Rams, so Corinna will win the week, I just don’t know if it will be either at 16-2 or 15-3.
I’m currently sitting at 13-4, because I took Oregon and SMU in college games, and Detroit and Oakland in the NFL.
It was a strange week as nearly all the home teams won. Minnesota was the only visiting college teams in seven games on picks list to win, while in the NFL, Seattle won at Philly.
Besides the Gophers’ road win, Green Bay getting trounced was the best highlight of the week. Mr. Rodgers is no longer an MVP candidate!
This week I have eight college games and 10 NFL ones to choose from. Sorry, Carolina, Cincinnati, Miami, Philadelphia, NY Jets and Washington fans, your teams stink so I didn’t include them.
In the college ranks, I’m taking Michigan to beat undefeated Ohio State; Alabama over Auburn in the Iron Bowl; Oklahoma over Oklahoma State; Washington taking down Washington State in the Apple Cup; Memphis over Cincinnati; Utah beating Colorado; and Kansas State upsetting Iowa State.
As for the NFL, let’s go with Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Green Bay, LA Rams, New England and San Francisco to win on the road, while Denver, Kansas City and Seattle will win at home. Sorry Vikings fans, but the chances are slim that Minnesota will win on the road. That doesn’t mean they won’t, I’m just not convinced a bye week will fix their problems.