HIBBING — I know in Minnesota we have a hard time admitting when we might have something special on our hands.

I know I’m like that when it comes to our professional and college sports.

I might have to change my attitude about that, beginning today.

On Saturday, the University of Minnesota did something I didn’t think they would be able to do, knock off No. 4 ranked Penn State 31-26.

I didn’t think the Gophers couldn’t do it because of a lack of talent, but because Minnesota hasn’t been in this position for quite some time.

I thought the atmosphere might be a little too big for the Gophers.

Well, I was wrong.

The Nittany Lions had one of the top-ranked defenses in the country, giving up an average of just nine points per game.

By halftime, Minnesota had scored 24 points.

It was 24-13 at the half, and you knew Penn State had some kind of a run in it.

The Nittany Lions made a charge, but the Gophers held it off with a late-game interception in the end zone to improve to 9-0 on the season.

We, or I, always expect the worse, but when something good happens, it feels better, and this feels good.

I was born in 1959, and I know Minnesota had won a National Championship in the 1960s, but for me, it was always a phantom title because I didn’t get to see them do it.

So many years of heartbreak for Gopher fans after that. They would come close, have a big game, then fall flat on their face.

This time, that’s all different.

Coach PJ Fleck has done an amazing job with this team. If one wanted to question why they hired him, there was probably good reason for that.

We’ve had a number of coaches who were supposed to lead us to the promised land, but I can’t recall any Big Ten titles let alone trips to important bowl games.

This year, all that is changing.

With that 9-0 mark, Minnesota has three more games remaining, with a two-game lead in the Big Ten West Division over Wisconsin.

A win at Iowa next weekend, then hopefully, a victory over Northwestern the following week, and the Gophers will get the opportunity to play in the Big Ten Championship game Of course, there’s always some skepticism.

Can the Gophers go to Iowa next week and stay undefeated?

Minnesota hasn’t had Floyd of Rosedale for quite some time. It would sure be nice to bring that trophy home to Minneapolis.

Northwestern hasn’t done well this season, so that could be a trap game for Minnesota, but I see no reason why they can’t win that game, even though it’s on the road.

The game with Wisconsin might not mean anything as far as the Big Ten West goes, but it would be nice to own a two-game winning streak over the Badgers and keep Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

Fleck takes it one week at a time, one championship season at a time. So far, that’s worked out wonderfully.

Let’s hope the Gophers don’t have a letdown after this big win over Penn State.

Remember, there’s still work left to be done.


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