Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: A 70-doughnut finish in the final two games sends Minnesota limping into the off-season

Print this entry

By Eric Nelson
November 29, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the home of Wheaties…

•New Low: The U of M football program has had plenty of down moments in the past six decades, but the last two weeks were really bad – even by Minnesota’s lowly standards. The Gophers were outscored 70-doughnut in losses to Northwestern (39-0) and Wisconsin (31-0), and sunk so low they struck oil…

•Rough Waters: Minnesota HC PJ Fleck rowed the Gopher boat into an iceberg this season. Fleck came to Dinkytown talking up the program and his culture, and had the fan base revved up. But his Anthony Robbins approach was a mirage, just a lot of huffing and puffing as Minnesota finished 5-7 and limps into the off-season with no real positive takeaways from 2017…

•Free Fall: This year was the polar opposite of 2016 when Minnesota was 9-4, and capped off the season with a signature win in the Holiday Bowl against Washington State. Former HC Tracy Claeys – who got a raw deal – is looking better with each passing day…

•Baffling: The spin doctors are out in full force trying to justify the Gophers decision to let Claeys go and hire Fleck. No one knows how Minnesota would have fared under Claeys in 2017 – it’s a hypothetical question that is impossible to answer. But I do know this, the Gophers had no business getting rid of a coach who won the most games in Dinkytown since Glenn Mason’s 10-win team in 2003…

•Flashbacks: Case Keenum’s current success is starting to resemble the kind of run three previous Minnesota quarterbacks had. Hopefully for Viking fans, Keenum won’t be a one-hit wonder like Joe Kapp, Randall Cunningham and Brett Favre

•Brilliant Blips: In 1969 the Vikings fed off of Kapp’s gritty, warrior-like persona and made it to Super Bowl IV. But the magic vanished when they lost to Kansas City and Kapp eventually left Minnesota for Boston in 1970 because of a contract dispute. In 1998, Cunningham was spectacular as Minnesota rolled to a 16-1 record and an appearance in the NFC title game. However, the season had a devastating finish, because the Vikings lost to Atlanta in overtime of the NFC title game. The next year Cunningham played in just six games. In 2009, Favre’s gun-slinging ways propelled Minnesota to the NFC Championship again where the Vikings experienced more purple pain again – losing to New Orleans in OT. In 2010 Favre crashed back to earth and ultimately retired from the NFL…

•Making His Case: If Keenum continues his hot streak, he can equal or surpass the sensational singular seasons of Kapp, Cunningham and Favre. The capper of course would be the Vikings getting that elusive Super Bowl trophy. If that happens Keenum will be able to walk across Lake Minnetonka in July…

•Rare Air: The Viking’s Adam Thielen has morphed into a top-flight wideout. Thielen has 1,005 yards receiving, third most in the NFL behind Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (1,195) and Atlanta’s Julio Jones (1,039)…

•Southern Swing: The Vikings (9-2) started their three-game road trip on a solid note with a 30-23 win at Detroit on Thanksgiving day. Next up for Minnesota is Atlanta on Sunday and Carolina the following week. The Falcons (7-4) and Panthers (8-3) have represented the NFC in the last two Super Bowls…

•The Trifecta: Minnesota is up to number 3 in this week’s NFL power rankings. Philadelphia (10-1) is first and New England (9-2) is second…

•Blue Skies: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Ex-Minnesota HC Mike Yeo is thriving in St. Louis, as the Blues are on top of the NHL’s Western Conference with 35 points…

Print this entry