Gameday Observations: Minnesota And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
I booked a trip out to Minnesota for this weekend’s game over the summer back when no one was talking about the Nittany Lions or Gophers as teams to watch. I just thought it’d be fun to see Minneapolis in addition to the normal rotation of Columbus, Ann Arbor, and Piscataway.
The trip ended up including way more exciting of a matchup than I had ever predicted and quite a historic day. It just sucked to be in a sea of maroon and gold when all Penn State made me want to do was put a paper bag over my head and ride the Mall of America’s Ferris wheel over and over until the secondary made a play.
I had never heard of Minnesota being a premier gameday experience before Saturday, but this game’s atmosphere had as much hype as any I have ever experienced. Even if there were only just more than 50,000 fans in attendance, the ones who were present were passionate, loud, and proud to be now 9-0.
Part of what made Saturday such a tough environment for Penn State but also a really cool sight to behold was that, for Gopher fans, a season like this one is long overdue.
In the section I was in, fans of all ages turned out and straight-up partied for four hours. I’ve seen Ohio State and Michigan fans in their element during Nittany Lion losses I’d also like to forget, but I can at least appreciate Gopher fans’ genuine excitement.
Here’s what we observed from the stands while mixed in with the brigade of shirtless fans.
Even before kickoff, you could tell that this was THE game for Minnesota. There was such an energy rushing through Dinkytown that, I think in some ways, compared to the anticipation for a Penn State White Out.
Driving down 23rd Avenue toward TCF Bank Stadium, daylongs overflowed onto the sidewalk. The parking lot was flooded with people drinking Michelob Golden Light and wearing “Gopheralls.” And there was a really cool buzz rushing through the air. Even as an opposing fan, the pregame atmosphere had me excited.
Fraternity and sorority houses line the street that TCF Bank Stadium is on, which was where most of the daylongs we passed were located. I thought it was interesting how busy these parties were less than 15 minutes before kickoff, as opposed to ones at Penn State frat houses, which are a solid 50-minute walk from Beaver Stadium.
Tailgating within an actual city doesn’t come close to comparing to the endless fields of cars and RVs at Penn State, but I appreciated seeing how Minnesota students make it work — all with hometown star Lizzo playing on the speakers.
Like I said, they pulled out all the stops for this game. While we were waiting in line to enter the stadium, the pregame flyover featured four parachuters. I wasn’t inside the stadium to hear what the crowd’s reaction was or what the PA announcer said about the stunt, but the people in line were losing their minds over it.
Gopher Fans Have So Many Cheers
My own personal hell will include shirtless people yelling “Ski U Mah!” and “M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A, Minnesota! Minnesota!” in my ears until they bleed.
Minnesota fans have an arsenal of cheers and it was impressive how synchronized they were able to be, yelling or singing one thing or another after every play. If you need proof of just how many cheers they have, take a look at their hockey rituals.
In addition to these, according to one fan I met, they also cheer things like “Who hates Iowa? We hate Iowa.” and “Fuck Wisconsin” at every game.
That said, spelling Minnesota takes forever and the fans always sound like they’re about to mess up. I’ll stick with spelling “P-S-U.”
“Is ‘We Are Penn State’ A Thing? Super Clever…”
Moments after Journey Brown’s 45-yard touchdown, one of the lone Penn State fans in my section started a “We are” cheer. Apparently, the lore behind Penn State’s iconic cheer hasn’t spread to the edge of the Mississippi. A lot of the fans seemed confused and never to have heard it. One in front of me was even critical of its originality.
Zombie Nation And Seven Nation Army
If Penn State can hang its hat on one thing from this weekend, it can be that two of the songs it helped introduce to college football were played over and over again at TCF Bank Stadium. It sounded a lot like Beaver Stadium with “Zombie Nation” and “Seven Nation Army” playing all game. But unfortunately, that didn’t seem to soothe the Nittany Lions’ road woes.
Instead of “We Are Penn State!” the cheer mixed with “Zombie Nation” was “Ski U Mah!”
The Staring Gopher On The Scoreboard During Field Goals Is A Missed Opportunity
When Jake Pinegar lined up for a field goal facing the scoreboard during the first quarter, a video of a creepy-looking, bug-eyed gopher played on the board. The thing was, it started playing as the teams got to the line of scrimmage and then paused on the gopher staring at the kicker, giving Pinegar more than enough time to adjust and not be fazed by it.
This gag has the potential to be as good as a distraction for opposing kickers as any in the country. Sure, it looked creepy, but I think the execution and timing could’ve been way more effective.
“Oww, nineteen ninety-nine”
In case you didn’t hear, Minnesota also ruined Penn State’s season in 1999. And if you didn’t hear, you must not have been at the game, because TCF Bank Stadium’s gameday experience team found every opportunity to recall memories of it — although I’m sure the TV announcers brought it up more than once.
Highlights from the ’99 game played on the scoreboard on more than one occasion. Members of that Gopher team came onto the field to hype up the crowd. Dan Nystrom, the kicker who made the field goal that knocked off the Nittany Lions, personally introduced the “Do The Gopher” dance before the fourth quarter (more on that later).
And when the game ended and fans poured onto the field, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “1999” played out over the loudspeakers.
I’m all for trolling, but in my opinion, but in a year where Minnesota has a direct path to the College Football Playoff, I was surprised that they were talking about an upset from 20 years ago.
To me, that’s something for the Rutgers and Marylands of the Big Ten to resort to. I’d think with a previously 8-0 and now 9-0 record, Minnesota would be above that and instead focus on its own current success. When Michigan State has nothing to play for other than to be spoiler, sure, make Felton Davis honorary captain and troll Penn State. But there are so many other things for this team to promote.
I guess you can expect to see Tanner Morgan and Antoine Winfield on the scoreboard flexing on the Nittany Lions when these two teams play in 2039.
Do The Gopher Was Awesome
Like fans’ variety of cheers, the “Do the Gopher” dance party between the third and fourth quarters certainly lightened the mood. I think this is one of the stranger, albeit more fun traditions in college football. This video is only 15 seconds, because I figured the dancing would be done after a few seconds, but it continued for probably close to two minutes. At least I can say one thing made me laugh Saturday.
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