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University of Minnesota
October 20, 2011
The Gophers are looking for their first Big Ten victory of 2011 against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Even though this will be Nebraska's first trip to Minnesota as a member of the Big Ten, the teams have played each other 51 times in the past, with the Gophers having won 29 times.
Photo: Patrick O'Leary
Game will be first pairing since Huskers joined Big Ten
By Rick Moore
The T-shirts in the U Bookstore in Coffman Union announce Saturday’s Homecoming matchup with a fair degree of drama.
“It begins here…
“It” refers to a rivalry being rekindled by Nebraska becoming the newest member of the Big Ten conference. The Gophers will be playing the Cornhuskers for the first time in 21 years and hosting them for the first time since the Metrodome was “home.”
It will be the first time Nebraska has been the “guest” for a Big Ten homecoming, and apparently the whole state thinks it received the invitation.
Gopher fans seeing red
Minnesota fans may have been hearing this week about how intensely Nebraskans follow Husker football.
Andy Seeley has not only seen it firsthand, he’s lived it. Seeley, the U’s associate director of athletic communications and the PR person for football, grew up just a few miles from Lincoln, Nebraska.
“From the time I was 6 months old to the time I left for college—more than 18 years—I was immersed in it (Nebraska football),” he says. “When you live that close to Lincoln and for the most part, when you live in Nebraska, it just is part of you.”
Seeley distinctly remembers strolling through department stores in Lincoln as a kid and not hearing Muzak over the intercom, but rather the radio broadcast of Cornhusker football games.
And Nebraska fans are eager to travel to see their team play on the road, since tickets are always sold out at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. They’ve been scouring ticket brokering websites for this weekend’s game and badgering anyone in Minnesota who might have a connection, as Seeley can attest to.
Some fans have even gone to the extreme of buying season tickets at TCF Bank Stadium, just so that they can have tickets every other year when Nebraska comes to town, notes Jason LaFrenz, associate athletics director at the U. “People have better luck going to a road game than trying to get a ticket to Memorial Stadium,” he says.
And they make the journey to Lincoln with or without tickets in hand. “Tens of thousands of people that don’t even have tickets go to Lincoln just to be there on game day,” notes Seeley. “The streets are packed with people wearing red. It’s just a really great atmosphere to be in Lincoln on a game day.
“Coach Kill and all of us here, that’s what we want to see happen at Minnesota. And I think it can. I think people are starved for us to be that type of program.”
Looking to rebound at home
The 1-5 Gophers are hoping that a return to TCF Bank Stadium and the atmosphere of Homecoming will help turn their season around following two disappointing road defeats (Michigan and Purdue) to open up the Big Ten season. Meanwhile, Nebraska enters the game on a high note. The 5-1 and 13th-ranked Cornhuskers are 1-1 in Big Ten play following a come-from-behind victory over Ohio State.
Even though Nebraska is new to the Big Ten, the Gophers and Huskers have played each other 51 times in non-conference action, dating back to 1900 when Minnesota won 20-12. The Gophers have had nine- and 10-game winning streaks against the Cornhuskers; however, Nebraska has won the last 14 matchups between the schools, including a 56-0 decision the last time out in 1990.
Some Gopher fans may remember the game in 1983 when Nebraska came to the Dome and handed Minnesota an 84-13 defeat, piling up 585 yards of rushing and a mind-boggling 780 yards of total offense.
But the Gophers have had their moments in the rivalry as well, including a key 7-0 victory in 1936 that paved the way to a third straight national championship. Late in that game, Minnesota’s Bud Wilkinson fielded a short punt, and as he was being tackled he lateraled to Andy Uram, who raced 78 yards for the game’s only touchdown. The victory pushed the Gophers’ winning streak to 19 games.
Overall, the series stands at 29-20-2 in Minnesota’s favor. Saturday’s game is at 2:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ABC.
Sophomore left tackle Ed Olsen and freshman left guard Tommy Olsen started together on the Gophers’ offensive line October 8 against Purdue for the first time in their careers. It marked the first time the Gophers have started brothers since October 3, 2009, vs. Wisconsin, when Jeff Tow-Arnett (C) and Nick Tow-Arnett (TE) were in Minnesota’s opening lineup.