Uff-da! That’s the best word I could think of to describe what happened Saturday afternoon as the Gophers were thumped 38-17 by Wisconsin, denying Minnesota the opportunity to play in the Big Ten Conference championship and at least a spot in the Rose Bowl.
It wasn’t that Wisconsin was the better team, they just played better because they controlled the line of scrimmage and did a better job of calling plays, especially in the second half as they scored four touchdowns and outscored Minnesota 28-10.
I thought Minnesota’s biggest blunder came in the first quarter. After taking a 7-0 lead on their first drive and forcing a second Wisconsin punt, Minnesota was sitting at the Badgers’ 35 facing a fourth-and-two. Minnesota chose to punt the ball away instead of going for it. Bad Mistake! Minnesota never threatened to score again in the first half and trailed 10-7 at the break.
Minnesota’s defense did its job of holding running back Jonathan Taylor to only 76 yards rushing, but the Gophers couldn’t get their running game on track. It was at the quarterback position where Minnesota supposedly had the edge with Tanner Morgan. Morgan was under constant pressure, and didn’t play that great.
Weather conditions probably had a huge part in that, with the snow favoring the Badgers with their run-first mentality. But it was Badgers’ quarterback Jack Coans who was the difference as he completed several big passes for long touchdowns.
A 10-2 record and hopefully a good bowl game is nothing to scoff at, but until you start beating Iowa and Wisconsin, there won’t be a Rose Bowl.
Now let’s talk about the Vikings and their 37-30 loss at Seattle, dropping Kirk Cousins to 0-8 in Monday night games. Some might think that’s not fair to say, but the knock on Cousins is that he can’t deliver with the game on the line. And he didn’t!
The Vikings looked great in the first half as they took a 17-10 halftime lead. In the third quarter Minnesota had the ball three times — turned it over once on their end of the field and had two three-and-outs, and fell behind 27-17. Minnesota’s second turnover of the third quarter was turned into a touchdown and a 34-17 lead early in the fourth.
Turn out the lights, the party is over, I thought, but the Vikes made a valiant comeback as Cousins directed two touchdown drives. Dan Bailey misses the extra point badly, and instead of being only down three points, it’s four at 34-30. No matter, the defense steps up and stops Seattle and Captain Kirk gets the ball back with 3:27 to play and all three time outs.
After picking up a first down, Cousins showed us why he’s terrrrrible on the national stage. His third-down pass was high and on fourth-and-three he needed to make a perfect throw, but couldn’t. Seattle adds a field goal with about 20 seconds remaining in the game.
That’s the difference between Captain Kirk and the other elite quarterbacks. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Jimmy G., Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Russel Wilson and the great ones would have completed one of those two passes.
Oh, by the way, Captain Kirk fans, he’s only beaten two teams with a winning record over the last two seasons. That’s what $84 million gets us!
Minnesota then fumbles the ensuing kickoff return — the eighth time they’ve coughed up a return this year — dropping the Vikes to 8-4. Bring on Detroit!
Winning the week was Brad Hagford at 15-3. I finished 12-6 which wasn’t that bad considering I picked Minnesota, Michigan and Alabama to win Saturday. At least the Crimson Tide won’t be in the College Playoff.
This week there are seven college games and 11 in the NFL on the picks sheet. I’m taking LSU, Ohio State, Utah, Baylor, Clemson and Memphis to win the conference championships, and Boise State to beat Hawaii.
In the “No Fun League,” let’s go with San Francisco, Baltimore, Tennessee, Green Bay, Houston, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, LA Rams, New England and Minnesota.
Sorry Cincinnati, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Miami, NY Giants, NY Jets, Philadelphia and San Diego fans, your teams stink and were left off!