Nystrom earns Big Ten honor

Michael Dougherty

and David La Vaque
Minnesota kicker Dan Nystrom was the subject of show-and-tell in his Cultural Studies class Monday. His professor announced to the class that it was Nystrom’s 32-yard field goal that gave the 20th-ranked Gophers their biggest win in recent memory.
As if anyone needed to be reminded.
The Big Ten also singled Nystrom out on Monday when the conference named him co-special teams player of the week. He split the honor with Neil Rackers of Illinois.
“She’s not a big football fan, but she saw it in the paper,” Nystrom said about his professor.
Gophers quarterback Billy Cockerham shared offensive player of the week honors with Badgers running back Ron Dayne. Cockerham completed 14-of-24 passes for 277 yards and passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third.

Gophers alter BCS standings
When the Gophers jolted Happy Valley with their last-second win Saturday, the aftershock carried all the way to Monday’s Bowl Championship Series poll.
Penn State dropped from No. 2 in the polls to No. 7 — all but eliminating an opportunity for a national championship.
The loss also puts Wisconsin (No. 8 in the BCS) a half-game ahead of the Lions in the Big Ten. The conference champion automatically goes to the Rose Bowl.
If both Penn State and Wisconsin win their remaining games, and neither moves up to the top two spots in the BCS, Penn State goes to the Rose Bowl because of a better winning percentage.
Under the assumption that the Lions go to the Rose Bowl and the Badgers win their last game against Iowa, in all likelihood Wisconsin earns a BCS berth in either the Fiesta or Orange bowl.
Make sense? No? Well, it will sure make dollars.
Charles Bloom, BCS media relations director said, “Each BCS bowl pays out $11 million to $13 million per team, which goes to the conferences.
“When a conference gets a second team in the BCS, the second team payout is dropped by about 25 or 30 percent. That’s to guard against one conference getting the whole pot.”
Aftermath of an upset
With numerous key players at evening class, football practice on Monday isn’t a great gauge by which to read the Gophers.
Even so, Mason says he “doesn’t detect” any overconfidence in the ranks.
“I’ve always been a proponent of one game not making or breaking a program,” Mason said. “People say, ‘Oh, they beat Penn State, they’ve arrived.’ But we went from a loser to a winner — that’s the most significant thing.”
The reluctant Mason did allow himself just a little opportunity to stick out his chest.
“Here’s Tennessee, sitting there watching our game, hanging on every play. I read in the paper that they went late to their walk (into the stadium) to watch the end of our game.
“It had a lot to do with us playing Penn State, let’s face it. But obviously, they’re sitting there watching because they believe we have a chance.”

Mason up for coaching award
Minnesota coach Glen Mason is one of 10 semifinalists for the Football News coach of the year award.
The third-year coach joins Penn State’s Joe Paterno to give the Big Ten two coaching nominees.
With a 24-23 upset victory at Penn State, Minnesota reached the six-win plateau, securing its first winning season since 1990.
Mason did not spend much time reveling in the moment, saying the nomination “is like (the team) being ranked.” Which is another distinction Mason says he doesn’t dwell on at all.
Carter on short lists
Gophers strong safety Tyrone Carter finds himself among the semifinalists or finalists for three of college football’s most prestigious awards.
The senior All-American remains in the hunt for the Bronko Nagurski Award (given to the nation’s top defensive player), the Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back), and the Football News defensive player of the year award.
Carter’s eight tackles against Penn State makes him the all-time leader in career tackles for a Division-I defensive back.
ù As of Monday afternoon, only 36,000 tickets were sold for Saturday’s game with Indiana.

Michael Dougherty covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]

David La Vaque covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]