If the Minnesota Golden Gophers are going to take Paul Bunyan's Axe back from the Wisconsin Badgers for the first time since 2004, they're going to do it with a fresh face at quarterback.
Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting that Coach Jerry Kill will take the red shirt off of freshman Philip Nelson, who will start on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium when Minnesota takes on Wisconsin.
Nelson, who at this time a year ago was starting for Mankato West High School on his way to winning Minnesota's Mr. Football honors, has been considered the future for Gophers' football since he committed to Minnesota early in 2011. The plan was for the Gophers to redshirt him this season to let him learn, and on the surface the decision to burn his red shirt at this point seems to be a curious one by Jerry Kill.
MarQueis Gray has been banged up, and will only see time at receiver on Saturday against Wisconsin. Max Shortell has looked promising at times, but has been inconsistent. The Gophers haven't scored more than 17 points in any of the games Shortell started at quarterback, and have scored just 13 points in both of their games in Big Ten play thus far.
Hopefully, Nelson's debut will go better than the last time the Gophers threw a quarterback into a rivalry game in a road stadium in front of a hostile crowd. Shortell made his NCAA debut last year in the battle for the Little Brown Jug against the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. Minnesota lost that game to the tune of 58-0.