In what felt like a defining weekend for the Gophers and Vikings before the first football was snapped, both produced high-quality victories with what was for both the best performance of the season.
And you, dear football fan, are now officially like the bank robber in the cheesy movie plot. Just when you thought you were out, they sucked you back in. They’ve both got you interested, despite all the history and your better judgment.
The Gophers did it by smashing Nebraska 34-7, a never-in-doubt score that still might not seem real for anyone who was sentient for “84-13,” a 1983 score that defines an era.
This is not the same Nebraska team and hasn’t been for a while. And yes, the Gophers benefited from playing against another backup quarterback. Their route to 6-0 has been paved with imperfection and good fortune.
But you don’t apologize for victories, and that’s all the Gophers have this season. They seem to be getting better on both sides of the ball, particularly on the offensive line. You barely have to squint to imagine an 8-0 start (at Rutgers, home vs. Maryland) before a Nov. 9 showdown vs. Penn State.
By then, the Vikings could be 6-2 — which is funny, because going into Sunday it wasn’t hard to imagine the season going off the rails with a home loss to the Eagles. Drop that one, watch dissent brew, falter at Detroit …
But that didn’t come close to happening. The Vikings were in control whenever it mattered Sunday, and the 38-20 final score was an accurate reflection of that decisiveness.
Adam Thielen wants the Vikings to throw when an opponent keys on the run? How about Kirk Cousins torching the Eagles deep on the way to 333 yards and four TDs.
Stefon Diggs wants a bigger role? Sir, here’s seven catches, 167 yards and three touchdowns (putting Diggs all of a sudden on pace for 1,120 yards receiving this year, which would be a career high. Funny how things even out.)
Mike Zimmer wants balance? The Vikings still ran 35 times.
You want meaningful football? You’ve got it. Proceed at your own risk, and enjoy.
• • •
It’s been barely two months since the Wild abruptly fired General Manager Paul Fenton only a little over a year into his tenure, replacing him a few weeks later with Bill Guerin.
The timing of it all, deep into the NHL offseason and with the Wild’s major free-agency decisions and draft already done, was bound to make 2019-20 a strange season.
Guerin was another fresh set of eyes — to borrow a phrase used when Fenton was hired — and it stood to reason he would be re-evaluating (and adding input to) not only the decisions made by Fenton but also the players who skated out of the playoffs under Chuck Fletcher’s watch just 18 months ago.
The result of a lot of old parts blended with the new vision that helped get Fenton fired, all being overseen by a new regime with new ideas … well, it hasn’t been pretty so far with the Wild falling to 0-4 with a loss in the home opener Saturday.
There are three bad plays for every two good ones. That’s what mediocre and downright bad teams do, and the Wild sure looks like one or the other — a team in transition, a mishmash of ill-fitting parts, a season that could go off the rails in a hurry.
It’s almost a shame Fenton isn’t here to watch it up close like the rest of us.