On Sept. 21, 1991, the Gophers football team traveled to Colorado for an early-season nonconference game. Minnesota was 1-0 on the season and was coming off respectable back-to-back 6-5 years (9-7 combined in the Big Ten) under head coach John Gutekunst.
What happened that day in front of 52,000 fans in Boulder, Colo., however, ushered in a descent from mediocre to abysmal for close to a decade.
Minnesota lost 58-0, starting a stretch of nine losses in 10 games to end the season. Gutekunst was fired, Jim Wacker was hired, and the Gophers didn't finish above .500 again until 1999 in Glen Mason's third year.
The internet wasn't a thing back in 1991, and I imagine a lot of the Minnesota sporting public was distracted anyway by a Twins World Series run. But that game in Colorado feels even longer ago than the 31 years between then and now would suggest.
The Gophers beat the Buffaloes 30-0 in Colorado last year. And on Saturday, they crushed Colorado 49-7 — a game that was 35-0 at halftime and caused Colorado athletic director Rick George to issue a statement to fans afterward that boiled down to, "Sorry we are so terrible. Please don't give up hope."
It opened like this: "Like all of you, I have been disappointed to watch our football team struggle this fall, most recently yesterday at Minnesota. I know that our coaches and our student-athletes are capable of so much more and that all of you deserve better results."
I'm not sure if any Gophers officials felt the need to apologize for that 58-0 Colorado loss or any of the subsequent pummeling that occurred over the next decade, though they perhaps might have felt compelled to do so.
What I do know is this: That statement has plenty to do with how far Colorado has fallen but it is also a testament to how much the Gophers have risen.
Against three non-league foes, the Gophers rank No. 2 overall in FBS in both total offense and total defense. Things will get tougher in Big Ten play, but they have as good a chance to win the West as anyone — as Patrick Reusse noted on Monday's Daily Delivery podcast.
And to beat a Power Five school so badly that their AD has to issue a public apology to fans? That's a next-level achievement for P.J. Fleck and his program.