5. Minnesota beats Syracuse, 17-10, extending record to 4-0 on the season
The Gophers were warned about Syracuse’s passing attack led by senior Ryan Nassib — but the Gophers forced him to throw two interceptions and pulling away a victory with Max Shortell starting in place of the injured MarQueis Gray. Minnesota improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2008.
4. Minnesota becomes bowl eligible after defeating Illinois, 17-3
The Gophers notch their sixth win after beating the Fighting Illini on the road. It would be the first time since the 2009 season that Minnesota was bowl eligible again. This was also bring about Jerry Kill’s first bowl as Minnesota head coach.
3. Kill’s health concerns
Jerry Kill had health scares in games against Northwestern and Michigan State. Following the homecoming game against the Wildcats, he suffered a seizure in the coaches locker room. At the last home game of the season against Michigan State, Kill suffered a seizure at halftime and did not return to the game. Kill maintains that his condition will not prevent him from coaching.
2. Minnesota loses to Texas Tech, 31-34, in Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
A win would have given the Gophers its first bowl victory since 2004, instead it lost it fifth straight bowl game. The match up was also a repeat of the 2006 Insight Bowl in which the Red Raiders came back down 31-points to defeat the Gophers in double-overtime.
1. Philip Nelson starts in 44-28 victory over Purdue
The first start for true freshman Philip Nelson was spectacular, throwing for 246 yards and three touchdowns in a win that broke a streak of Big Ten Conference losses for the Gophers. Nelson’s redshirt was burned in the previous game when he took over for Max Shortell, but the Gopher quarterback of the future has proven this season he can carry the team to future winning seasons.
A.J. Barker’s transfer
The ostracized former wide receiver’s 4,000 word Tumblr post shook at the foundations of the football program, especially Kill. But ultimately, the program’s public relations experts rode out the media blitz that ensued and nothing more became of it. Barker will transfer to the University of Houston next year.
Football pays $800,000 to drop games against North Carolina
Paying money (and a lot of money with that) to avoid playing a team that many fans would expect to be an easy non-conference victory is troubling and says a lot about the program and the confidence it has with Kill and its cast of young players.