RandBall

Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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Tuesday (Rose Bowl irony) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 21st at 4:42pm 279919952

smokyjoeThe Gophers have not played in the Rose Bowl in more than half a century. Yes, their last appearance in the “Grandaddy of them all” was in 1962, when they defeated UCLA 21-3.

Since then, the game has been the pie-in-the-sky benchmark for a return to prominence for Minnesota — the game fans dared to dream about. One coach, Joe Salem, even (infamously in retrospect) posed with a rose in his mouth for a billboard. The Gophers never even managed to finish above .500 in conference play under ol’ Smoky Joe. That was more than 30 years ago.

Lou Holtz conjured images of Pasadena. Glen Mason’s best teams ultimately were woulda coulda shoulda teases that accomplished plenty but couldn’t make a really serious dent in Rose Bowl talk. Tim Brewster had a patch of Rose Bowl grass. No, really.

And here we are today. It would be getting way ahead of ourselves to talk about the Rose Bowl, even in a normal year for the game. The Gophers under Jerry Kill are 3-0 in the Big Ten for the first time in nearly a quarter-century, and the next two games on their schedule (at Illinois, home vs. Iowa) are certainly winnable. Their final three (Ohio State, at Nebraska, at Wisconsin) are more than daunting.

But still, at 3-0, this is the kind of start that would allow most fans to have at least a realistic dream of the Rose Bowl in most years. Indeed, we’ve heard chatter from plenty of them already about that very bowl game.

However, a lot has changed about the game — and getting to the game — in recent years. Unlike many of the seasons in the great Rose Bowl drought, getting there can be complicated.

This season, in particular, it would require being one of the top four teams in college football. That’s because under the new four-team playoff system, the Rose Bowl hosts one of the national semifinals every three years. And this happens to be one of those years.

The Gophers are still in the running for the playoff (think of that, for a moment), but even a Minnesota team that fell short of the playoff but wound up winning the Big Ten would get bounced to a different bowl this season.

Everyone within the program — fans included — would gladly accept that outcome because it would still be the best year for the program since the 1960s. But there would still be some unfortunate irony if the Gophers finally had a season worthy of the Rose Bowl, only to find out they picked the wrong year to be great.

Again: nice problem to have, should it happen — and a long way to go before it becomes  a reality. Just remember it will take a lot more to smell roses this season than in past years.

TFD: Caption contest -- photo from the 50-yard line of new Vikings stadium

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 20th at 6:16pm 279845462

We took a tour of the new Vikings stadium today. It’s not quite game-ready yet, but there are 13 cranes currently operational, including one that weighs 3 million pounds, so it should be finished any day now (or at least by July of 2016).

Dave Mansell of Mortenson Construction led the way, but first he took us on a virtual tour. He said technology has helped erase the “oh [redacted], what do we do now?” moments that used to befall construction projects.

Hopefully for the Vikings, in the new stadium they will have fewer of them as well.

Did we just cheapen it? We did! Let’s end on a different note. Here’s a photo from around the 50-yard-line. It’s caption contest time!

50-yard-line

As bad as it is for the Vikings, at least they aren't the Bears

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 20th at 2:20pm 279814592

bearsWith Green Bay presumably still trying to figure out how to play defense and the Lions projected to be the Lions, a decent handful of folks thought the Bears would be the class of the NFC North this season — or at least contend for the division title.

Instead, they dropped to 3-4 on Sunday with a humbling home loss to the Dolphins. They’re 0-3 at home, and the wheels are coming off the bus. Per the Chicago Sun Times (portion of sports home page screen-shotted for your amusement):

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall reportedly called out quarterback Jay Cutler in the locker room after the game, players were heard screaming at each other about “heart,’’ guard Kyle Long told reporters that fans’ boos at Soldier Field were “unacceptable’’ and former Bear Blake Costanzo tweeted that coach Marc Trestman “has made the Bears soft.’’

Would it be safe to assume that this isn’t the atmosphere of “respect and humility’’ that Trestman is trying create?

Has he lost his team? Has Cutler?

These are the kinds of questions that get asked when teams are falling apart. The Bears looked like they were in mid-implosion.

Your 2014 Chicago Bears! Circle Nov. 16 and Dec. 28 on your calendar. Those are the two epic Vikings vs. Bears clashes this season.

Monday (Eddie Vedder talks about the Gophers on stage) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 20th at 9:46am 279779532

vedderThe last time we saw Pearl Jam, it was Oct. 19, 2003, at Xcel Energy Center. The Gophers football team, one day earlier, had lost the second of two consecutive games to Michigan schools — this one to Michigan State, a week after the infamous Michigan game.

We do not recall Eddie Vedder name-checking the Gophers. If he had, the state might have erupted in a furious riot of bad intentions, ending the show early.

We did not make it to Sunday night’s show at the X, but it sounds as if it was a glorious good time.

And it also sounds like Vedder, knowing his audience, gave some love to the Gophers football team (even if he did throw a little bit of playful shade on the school’s nickname). Several people tweeted about this, but here’s the most succinct one we could find, from Ch. 5′s Chris Long:

That’s right: The Gophers football team is riding such a high that they got a shout out from one of the greatest lead singers from one of the greatest bands of our generation. And from the sound of it, Vedder made no reference to 4th-and-20 or any other football that happened Sunday. Good man, Eddie. Good man.

Sunday Meltdown: Gophers overcame; Vikings did more of the same

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 20th at 6:17am 279717572

Anyone who has watched enough football knows there are two specific scenarios that give fans a bad feeling about what’s to come: 1) A missed extra point early in the game coming back to haunt and 2) Missed opportunities to pad a lead coming back to haunt.

The Gophers (scenario 1) and the Vikings (scenario 2) played games this weekend that followed both of those scripts, and the way both games played out says everything you need to know about each team right now.

1) The moment the Gophers missed an extra point against Purdue, particularly in the manner in which it happened (doinking the upright following a penalty that moved the try back five yards), the hardened football fan was wondering if the Gophers would be chasing that point all day. Sure, they were still up 20-14 after the miss, but giving away a free point is dangerous.

Sure enough, Purdue rattled off the next 17 to take a 31-20 halftime lead. Not only did it feel like the miss had altered momentum, but also it led to a score gap that made the failed extra point feel particularly important. So the Gophers scored next, of course, then chased that missed point with a trick play on their next conversion. It failed again, leaving them down 31-26.

By the time it was 38-29 Purdue late in the third quarter, both failed conversions felt like they very well could determine the margin of defeat for the Gophers – and derail a promising season.

Instead, of course, the Gophers rallied for a touchdown to make it 38-36 and then what proved to be the winning field goal with five minutes left – a 52-yarder by freshman Ryan Santoso, the very guy who set the chain of events in motion.

One could even speculate that if the score had been tied 38-38 (with both attempts converted for one point, or the second converted for two points), the Gophers would have had to think twice before trying such a long field goal, since the risky kick is easier to justify when trailing than when tied. Regardless, Minnesota persevered and overcame a potentially fatal mistake because that’s what good teams do.

2) The Vikings, on the other hand, forced four turnovers against Buffalo and had two great chances late to create a two-score lead. Set up with 1st-and-goal from Buffalo’s 7 early in the fourth quarter and already leading 13-10, they looked very much like the 2013 Vikings by taking back-to-back sacks and settling for a field goal that kept it a one-score game. Uh-oh.

Given a reprieve by the defense, and after moving the ball near midfield with under five minutes to play, the Vikings probably needed another 15 yards for a chance at a Blair Walsh field goal that would have made it 19-10. Instead, the drive stalled, the Vikings punted, and Kyle Orton did to the Vikings what so many quarterbacks did a year ago. Different year, same Vikings.

Better offense would have meant the 4th-and-20 allowed by the defense was a frustrating side note. Instead, Vikings fans were left to curse the fact that their fears with a six-point lead were realized while Gophers fans reveled in that team’s ability to overcome a mistake.

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San Francisco - J. Peavy 7:07 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 6:00 PM
Orlando
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Boston
Washington 6:30 PM
New York
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Memphis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Atlanta 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Portland 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Phoenix 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Anaheim
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 8:30 PM
Real Salt Lake
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg

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