Column: Despite loss, no need to panic with Gophers

Minnesota’s confidence should lift fans’ spirits.

David Nelson

De’Vondre Campbell appeared unemotional and unfazed when he spoke to reporters following the Gophers’ 31-24 loss to Ohio State.

The redshirt junior linebacker didn’t blink or stutter when he said Minnesota would see the Buckeyes again this season.

The next time that rematch could take place would be at the Big Ten championship game, and that’s exactly what Campbell alluded to.

It would be easy for doubters to point to the Gophers’ three losses on the season and claim Campbell’s prediction to be inconceivable.

But at this point, Minnesota fans and pundits have no reason to hit the panic button on this season.

The Gophers gave up almost 500 yards of total offense to the one of the best teams in the country and still managed to come within eight points of upsetting Ohio State.

Although an upset victory would have helped the Gophers, they’re still in a good position after the loss.

“We can control our own destiny,” head coach Jerry Kill said. “We were going to have to win our last two games no matter what the outcome was.”

As it stands, Minnesota ranks tied for third in the Big Ten West with Iowa, who the Gophers own the tiebreaker against. Wisconsin and Nebraska own the top two spots.

Minnesota faces both teams to end its season, and victories against each would mean the Gophers own the tiebreakers.

So while the Gophers were upset after the loss, it doesn’t end their chances at being Big Ten champions.

“At the end of the day, it’s still an ‘L,’ but you can take away a lot of things,” redshirt junior defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun said. “We proved to ourselves we can hang with the top teams … not only hang, but we can have a really strong chance of beating them if we don’t make some of the mistakes we do on defense.”

The Gophers kept coming and didn’t let up even after falling down by as much as 17 points in the fourth quarter.

Minnesota will need that resiliency as it plays both the Cornhuskers and the Badgers on the road.

“Every guy on our team believes that we are good enough to win those games,” senior running back David Cobb said.

Even after a loss, not one member of the team who spoke to the media sounded unconfident about the team’s chances the rest of this season.

Look at the way the Gophers played against Iowa following a loss to Illinois.

Minnesota demolished the Hawkeyes, and fans should expect the same avenger-type performance against Nebraska.

The loss to Ohio State should prove to be more of a tune-up game for the rest of the season, rather than a stumbling block.

“We need to get locked in and finish the job,” Kill said. “I think our kids know what’s on the line and they’ll be ready to play.”