Is this another dose of disrespect?
It started when the cynics looked at Minnesota’s football schedule and noted that a good record in 2019 would be compromised by the fact that the Gophers’ crossover games in the Big Ten included Rutgers and Maryland instead of Ohio State and Michigan. You can still hear that one now and then, and even if it’s the truth, it’s probably time to move on.
Then the Gophers won their three nonconference games and the skeptics noted they weren’t overly impressive in beating South Dakota State (an FCS team) by one touchdown, Fresno State (which has struggled to a 3-4 record) on a final-minute score and Georgia Southern (a close call against a team with a 4-3 record from a flimsy conference) with a late-game comeback.
Fast forward through the Big Ten schedule and the Gophers are 8-0, one of nine remaining undefeated teams in major college football, and one of three in the Big Ten along with Ohio State and Penn State.
Penn State. That bring us to the latest perceived indignities: The odds on the Nov. 9 game between the Gophers and Nittany Lions at TCF Bank Stadium. The one with the 11 a.m. kickoff that many people hoped would be on in prime time instead. (See, we can always find things to get worked up about.)
First, it was ESPN running its matchup predictor on the game a week from Saturday and giving Penn State a 73.1% chance of beating Minnesota.
Also, in the trickle of pregame analysis that will gain much more steam next week, Tzvi Machlin of The Spun wrote: “Penn State has looked as good as ever under head coach James Franklin this year. However, the Nittany Lions have had a fairly tougher schedule to date than the Golden Gophers. They’ve played – and beaten – two ranked teams, while Minnesota hasn’t played any. Their defense is also among the best in the nation, allowing more than 13 points only once so far.”
And now the earliest betting lines on the game are out … and Penn State is listed as a 6½-point favorite on two of the web-based sports books that have established a betting line.
For a fan base that plays the no-respect card more often than any other in the Twin Cities, with Lynx fans running second in that race, it will be interesting to see how people react. Will this be seen as another instance of the Gophers not getting what they deserve? Or an acknowledgement that as good as the Gophers have been, their underdog status for the big battle is the right one?
On a less-than-scientific front, a Star Tribune “poll” asks fans to assess the chances of Minnesota winning the game on a scale from 0 to 100% So far, three in five have put the Gophers chances at 40% or less.
Are they being realists … or just self-loathing?
Our suggestion for those still throwing a pity party over how the Gophers are being treated: Start looking at the bowl projections from national experts … and take heart that nobody has Minnesota going to the Quick Lane Bowl this year.
That’s where Nebraska could end up, if it manages to win a couple more games this season.