They’re going to Miami … for an Internet bowl?

A jubilant roar swept through the Metrodome tunnel late Saturday afternoon, and among those echoes came, “We re going to Miami.”
Now, for those of you not familiar with the 20-odd bowl games currently being played in the modern age, Miami appears to be Minnesota football’s sun-spot for a bowl game next month.
You didn’t seriously think I meant the Orange Bowl did you?
C’mon, everybody knows the Bowl is where the maroon and gold are headed. From this moment until Dec. 28, every Gopher should be thanking the screw-loose who came up with the Bowl: Your creation is a gift to Gopher fans far and wide.
“I’m one of those guys who doesn’t care where we go,” Gophers coach Glen Mason said following his team’s wild 27-24 bowl-clinching victory. “I’ve never been to a bad bowl game, and I’m a big believer in the bowl system.”
54,387 fans mostly-filled the Metrodome on Saturday afternoon. Being inside a bubble with 11,000 seats to spare, this game had all the college football ambiance of an optometric waiting room.
And waited the Gophers did. For three quarters they refused to take control of a game far more important to them than the Iowa Hawkeyes. Today’s rules of college football mediocrity clearly state one team playing for a trip to the Bowl is still better off than one fighting to reclaim a bronze pig.
For the past three games the Gophers rediscovered ways to lose: The Option (Indiana), The Meltdown (Northwestern) and The Tackler (Wisconsin).
They were well on their way to a fourth consecutive meltdown. “Offensively we were dead and didn’t convert on any big plays,” said Gophers quarterback Travis Cole. “The fourth quarter came and I got into a zone and Ron Johnson made some great catches.”
Suddenly, a putrid-looking offense was throwing bullets, and Johnson and Jermaine Mays were catching them every which way. They caught them over the middle, they caught them on the sidelines, they caught them on fourth downs.
And for the first time in three quarters, they even caught them for touchdowns.
The Gophers stormed back, rearranging a 12-point fourth quarter Hawkeyes lead into a three-point advantage.
There was still plenty of time, certainly plenty of time for the grossly underachieving defense to give it all back.
But Karon Riley (four sacks) was all-too eager for the chance to go against a lone offensive tackle. The oft-shredded defense made their final stand, and in the last game, the Gophers found a way to win. This from the team that brought you Ohio University, the fourth quarter against Northwestern and Wisconsin.
“I didn’t know anything about going to the Rose Bowl (after beating Ohio State),” said defensive end Greg White. “We knew we still had five or six more games to go, but we got ahead of ourselves and the fans got ahead of themselves.”
Now, let the streets run wild. Mason, the seven-year, million-dollar man has ensured himself consecutive winning seasons in conference play for the second time in 24 seasons as a head coach.
“It was a great college football game,” Mason said. “I would have said that even if we lost. It was a lot of fun.”
What better way for the unquestioned heart and soul of a much-improved offensive line (Ben Hamilton) and seven of 11 defensive starters to follow the 1999 Sun Bowl runner-up trophy, than to play for the chance to win a cyberspace bowl.
At least it’s not the bowl.
“I’m just looking forward to Thanksgiving,” Mason said.”
For the time being, Mason has a lot to give thanks for, namely Johnson, Riley and the goons who decided should have a hand in college football.

Mark Heller is the assistant sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]