Mason pleased with student attendance in home opener

by David McCoy

Later this season the University’s football team will travel to Penn State and Michigan in back to back weeks.

These teams are consistently two of the top draws in the country, so the Gophers will face approximately 210,000 fans in two weeks.

The University has a long way to go before drawing those kinds of numbers. Only 40,221 saw the Gophers blow out Colorado State 56-24 Saturday at the Metrodome.

But coach Glen Mason said he believes the situation is starting to look up. He said this year’s student section looked bigger than it ever has in his years at the University.

“I first started noting it during warm-ups and I started saying ‘Boy, there are a lot of students here already,’ ” Mason said. “It just seemed like a larger section of the dome was filled up with those yellow shirts.”

A big reason for that might be the increased efforts made by the Gophers athletics marketing department to lure students into buying season tickets this season.

The University offers a huge discount for students if they buy football season tickets this year. Students who buy them for $55 can get men’s basketball season tickets for $59 and women’s basketball season tickets for $48. Football season tickets were $50 last year.

Gophers middle linebacker Mike Sherels said he believes the discount has had a lot to do with the increased attendance.

“It’s great that the University offered all those deals,” Sherels said. “When we look out there and see the student section and they all have their shirts, (and) the student section is double or triple the size it has been since I’ve been here, it’s really good because the students get rowdy.”

Mason said the student section plays a big role in the football game, right along with the guys on the field.

“In college football now, there’s an event that takes place,” Mason said. “The band has a piece of it, the canned music has a piece of it, the cheerleaders have a piece of it, and to be quite honest, the fans have a piece of it.”

Big Ten gets a beating

Three Big Ten teams were ranked in the Top 10 by The Associated Press going into last weekend’s games.

After a weekend where the Big Ten went perfect for the first time since 1985, all three of those top teams lost. No. 8 Iowa lost to Iowa State, No. 3 Michigan lost to then-No. 20 Notre Dame and No. 4 Ohio State lost to No. 2 Texas.

“It’s good for us,” Gophers running back Laurence Maroney said. “I just can’t wait to play them ourselves.”

After the losses, Iowa dropped to No. 22, Michigan dropped to No. 14 and Ohio State dropped to No. 9. Purdue currently sits at No. 12.

“I’m just glad we weren’t one of them,” Mason said. “I didn’t see any of that coming. It just goes to show what the early season rankings mean.”

Michigan State is the next Big Ten team hoping to experience success against a tough opponent. The Spartans play at No. 10 Notre Dame at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Move over Maroney

Gophers running back Laurence Maroney might be ranked second in the nation with 336 yards, but a Northwestern

true freshman won Big Ten offensive player of the week honors. Running back Tyrell Sutton rushed for 214 yards and four touchdowns Saturday against Northern Illinois.