To be a Minnesota sports fan often means to exist in a contradictory state: You are more optimistic and less afraid of bad outcomes when a team is merely decent. But you are pessimistic and scared when a team seems like it could truly be special.
Let's give this a name: The Minnesota Sports Outcome Paradox. The better things seem, the worse they can get. The worse things seem, the better they can get.
We can be forgiven for choosing this confusing default approach because, well, evidence suggests that things have played out this way. Perhaps Minnesota sports fans just intuitively understand regression and progression to the mean.
Or maybe they've just gotten their hopes up one too many times, only to get knocked down just when they started to believe. (If you felt this way watching the Vikings get pummeled on Monday Night Football a few days ago, for instance, the wounds are very fresh).
I sense this sentiment applies to the 2022 Gophers football team as well — something I talked about on Friday's Daily Delivery podcast.
There is a lot of evidence suggesting the Big Ten West is very winnable this season. There is also a lot of evidence suggesting this is a very good football team.
The Gophers are No. 2 in FBS in total offense AND total defense after three non-conference routs. They have depth and balance on both sides of the ball, plus an uncommon combination of belief and focus.
"When you come together for a common cause and with a common goal, great things are going to happen," Gophers linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin said on Thursday's podcast.
Internally, the Gophers show no fear. They only see the opportunity ahead, with the next challenge being the start of the Big Ten season at Michigan State on Saturday.
Externally, though, some Gophers fans might be wondering this: Is Minnesota really as good as it has looked so far? After all, the three opponents on its schedule so far — New Mexico State, Western Illinois and Colorado — look to be less-than-robust competition.
Should the Gophers really be three-point favorites on the road, against a Spartans team that was ranked No. 11 in the country before a loss last weekend to Washington knocked them from the Top 25?
I don't know. I do know that it might be time for a clean break from the Minnesota Sports Outcome Paradox.
With the Gophers, try this: Embrace your hopes, not your fears.