When Jerry Kill was hired, he gave long suffering Gophers fans hope, but also a message: there was a lot of work to do, and that the Gophers were a long way from being good.
Well, at least he’s honest.
Minnesota got beat handily by 1-AA opponent North Dakota State 37-24 at TCF Bank Stadium, and it was the Bison that looked like a Big Ten team, not the Gophers.
North Dakota State was the team that put pressure on the quarterback, it was North Dakota State that made the big plays, and in the end, it was North Dakota State that got the convincing win.
Although Minnesota took an early 7-0 lead, NDSU’s offense quickly answered and took over the game, and by halftime they had built a 28-14 lead, thanks to an interception/lateral/return on the last play of the half.
Minnesota crawled back into the game in the second half, though. The defense stiffened and got some stops, Max Shortell came in for a largely ineffective MarQueis Gray, threw a beautiful TD pass to Eric Lair on 4th down, and with just under three minutes to play, the Gophers found themselves with the ball and only one score down, at 31-24.
But the hope was short lived. Max Shortell threw a pick, and Marcus Williams, who was the recipient of the lateral/fumble and ran that in for a TD at the end of the first half, intercepted Shortell’s pass and returned it 40 yards for a TD.
The Gophers will now try and regroup before traveling to Ann Arbor to try and wrest away the Little Brown Jug, and it will be interesting to see if the Gophers start Max Shortell or go back to Gray.
But neither of them play defense, so it might not matter.