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For most football fans in Minnesota, or Wisconsin for that matter, last weekend was a good one to forget. The Vikings, the Packers, and the Gophers, all had disastrous weekends in being upset.
Hard to believe that the Vikings could be favored by as much against Buffalo as Green Bay was against the Kirk Cousins-less Washington Redskins, and, if you believe the Kool-Aid gulping media in the Twin Cities, as much as the University of Minnesota was against Maryland.
And all of them lost. They didn’t just lose, they were hammered.
The Vikings have spent much of the season boasting about how great they were going to be now that they have acquired Kirk Cousins and done away with the three quarterbacks they has accumulated, including the magical Case Keenum. What is so easily forgotten is that Keenum came in last season as No. 3 to replace the injured Sam Bradford when Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t sufficiently recovered from knee surgery. It took Keenum part of a game and the next game to get acclimated, but once solidly in place, the Vikings went 11-1 with Keenum taking advantage of a shaky offensive line by simply running like crazy to turn dangerous situations into offensive successes.
Now that he’s gone, and leading Denver to what appears capable of being an ever-improving season, I get thoroughly disgusted every time I hear some radio guy, or read some Twin Cities columnist, proclaim after every neat pass Cousins throws: “There’s no way Case Keenum could make that throw.”
They said it after Cousins had a fantastic game and threw a memorable bullet between two defenders at the left sideline that somehow got through their four arms and was caught by Adam Thielan for a touchdown. It was a great play, but before we use Cousins’s success to rip Case Keenum just remember -- we had the Minneapolis Miracle last season, and Case Keenum made that pass. If we wanted to be a cynic, we could say no way Kirk Cousins could make that pass.
If you didn’t see it, you have a chance to maintain your sanity. You missed Cousins fumbling twice in the first quarter, both for Buffalo touchdowns, and the team everybody wanted to say was the worst in the entire NFL had a 17-0 lead after one quarter, 27-0 at halftime, and they shut off the offense at that point, giving up a meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown to win 27-6.
Then there were the Gophers. Their believers believed P.J. Fleck when he raved about how great the team was when it started 3-0 against three pre-Big Ten patsies. That set them up to play a Maryland team we were told was the worst team in the Big Ten.
Maryland drubbed the Gophers 42-13, rushing for 315 yards and scoring on six touchdowns that averaged 47 yards in length. Perhaps the maroon-and-golders overlooked the fact that Maryland had started the season by upsetting Texas. How long do you think we’ll have to live before we see Minnesota schedule a team as strong at Texas?
The Gophers went into the season trusting that Rodney Smith would lead the offense and Antoine Winfield Jr. would lead the defense. Smith tore his ACL against Fresno State (Fresno State?) and is done for the season, and Winfield injured his foot against Maryland so badly that he, too, is lost for the season. Guess we can put away our bowl-game ticket order blanks.
Luckily up here in the Northland, we have the UMD Bulldogs in Division 2 and St. Scholastica in Division 3, and both of them will always give you your money’s worth of effort and competitiveness.
The Bulldogs faced an equally undefeated Bemidji State outfit last Saturday at Malosky Stadium, and UMD won the game 26-19, but it took two overtime sessions to do it, after Bemidji State came roaring back from a 9-0 halftime deficit to claim a 16-12 lead after three quarters.
Bemidji State added a field goal and UMD got a touchdown when quarterback John Larson connected with sophomore Johnny McCormick, whose acrobatic catch of a 22-yard strike gave UMD a 19-16 lead.
Bemidji State qiarterback Jared Henning had a tough night, so coach Brent Bolte sent in true freshman Alec Ogden, and he went 5-10 for 168 yards, including two touchdowns. But at the end, UMD’s defense stiffened and the Beavers settled for a 40-yard field goal and the 19-all tie.
The Bulldogs got deep enough into Bemidji territory to win it with a field goal, but with 40 seconds left, UMD missed on fourth down at the 16.
Overtime in college is fun, because both teams get equal chances to score. Bemidji State had the ball first from the UMD 25, but stalled at furth and three at the 18. The Beavers, however, missed that field goal attempt.
It took until the second round of tries for UMD to click, when Larson fired a pass to Nate Ricci to reach the 2, and freshman Wade Sullivan slammed in from there for the 26-19 lead.
Bemidji State had a chance for the equalizer, but a dropped pass and an incompletion left fourth and 17 at the 32. A field goal wouldn’t do it, so Ogden tried to pass for it, but UMD senior Alex Helmer nailed Ogden for a game-ending sack.
That moved UMD to 4-0 in the battle of undefeated teams, and Bemidji State is 3-1. The Bulldogs face Concordia of St. Paul Saturday at Malosky Stadium, at 1 p.m.
St. Scholastica faced a major challenge against Westminster last Saturday at noon at Public Schools Stadium before pulling out a 23-20 UMAC victory. The Blue Jays took a 7-0 lead, held it at 7-3 at halftime, then made it 13-3 in the third quarter before Saints quarterback Zach Edwards found his rhythm.
Edwards passed to Esko’s Aaron Olson for an 18-yard touchdown to close the gap to 13-9, then ran for a 9-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the Saints ahead 16-13. The Saints gained a 23-13 cushion on Teddy Gildersleeve’s 18-yard touchdown, and that proved decisive when Westminster scored a touchdown with three minutes remaining.
It was quite a weekend for sports in Duluth, as the UMD women’s soccer and hockey teams had tough defeats.
The UMD women skated to a 3-0 first-period lead over the newly professional Minnesota Whitecaps at AMSOIL Arena, but the Whitecaps came back for a 3-3 tie on two goals by ex-Gopher Hannah Brandt before Lee Stecklein scored the third-period winner for a 4-3 triumph. Sadie Lundquist from Cloquet got her second assist on the game-winner.
UMD got two goals from Gabbie Hughes and one by Naomi Rogge, and former U.S. Olympic goaltender Maddie Rooney saw her 3-0 lead vanish before Emma Soderquist played the third period. The Bulldogs face a potent Boston College outfit at AMSOIL Friday and Saturday.
The UMD soccer team dropped a tight 1-0 game to MSU-Mankato last Friday night, when Brynn Desens worked a give-and-go off her own throw-in, and curled a high shot that went just off the fingertips of goaltender Sisley Ng, who tumbled backward into the goal as the ball hit the net. Ng came back to shut out Concordia Sunday afternoon, but unfortunately UMD failed to score also, in a 0-0 tie.
Things continue to heat up this weekend, with some of the biggest news on the UMD campus the naming of the UMD Bulldogs No. 1 in the U.S. College Hockey Online preseason poll. Before getting too excited, however, be aware that USCHO takes the easy way out in its annual preseason poll, ranking the top four teams as the teams that make the Frozen Four the previous year. The Bulldogs, however, will be really tough to dislodge this year, however.