Its Monday morning after Week 4 in the college football season and it looks like the Gophers are off to another dismal start with a record of...4-0?
Perhaps this isn't going to be your average season for the University of Minnesota football program. The five previous seasons have consisted of 1-11, 7-6, 6-7, 3-9 and 3-9 records with appearances, and losses, in the Insight Bowl to cap off the 2008 and 2009 seasons. It's sad to think that those two were the highlight seasons out of the five while I was in school at the U of M. Maybe they just needed me to finally get the hell out of there.
There is no denying that this is a different Minnesota football team from years past. It seems that under second-year head coach Jerry Kill, this team finally has an identity. The team seems to be playing with heart, and while there haven't been any convincing wins over big-time programs, this team is getting results. You need to start somewhere when you are trying to rebuild a program. Results turn into recruits. Recruits lead to a better team. Jerry has this ship headed in the right direction.
When speaking with other Gopher fans about the 4-0 start, there is a common phrase being thrown around: "Cautious Optimism."
Rightfully so. There has been a lot of disappointment in seasons past that has developed into this mutual feeling of apprehension when it comes to rallying behind our football team. However, things are changing. You can feel it amongst the players, coaching staff and students across campus. This team is finally getting over the hump after digging itself deeper and deeper during the Brewster era. I believe in this team and Coach Kill's philosophy.
Next week the Gophers will open their Big Ten schedule on the road in Iowa. This will be by far the toughest test of the young season for Minnesota. Shortell has looked good in the past two weeks, but he will be up against a traditionally tough defense that is far more talented than anything he has faced so far this season.
That being said, I think the Gophers can do it. Iowa has struggled their way to a 2-2 record this year and is quite vulnerable after coming off a loss to Central Michigan last weekend. Though it will be a loud and hostile atmosphere for this rivalry game down in Iowa City, IA at Kinnick Stadium, and the Gophers are seven-point underdogs, I think they will come out on top to keep Floyd and head into their bye-week at 5-0.
If that happens, "Cautious Optimism" may turn into full-blown hysteria in the Twin Cities area and amongst Gophers fans across the globe. It would likely create quite a bit of fanfare heading into the University of Minnesota's Homecoming game against what is proving to be a legitimate Big Ten contender in Northwestern.
They'll have to get past Iowa first.