PJ Fleck is a big fan of Kentucky Derby.
Before the “Rose of the Roses” in 2019, Fleck and his wife Heather attended the Churchill Downs tour in costumes. He wore salmon-colored pants and a fitted blue sports jacket; she wore a matching pink and red dress and a large, iconic flowing hat. They enjoyed the pre-match celebrations on the red carpet.
In May, the Gophers played the spring game on the same day as the latest derby. A few hours before the 147th game, Flake hoped reporters “Happy Derby Day” because he reviewed it in a melee. The performance of the US team. Less pomp and situation.
In July, Flake compared the Gophers’ season opener against the fourth-ranked Ohio State University at 7 p.m. Thursday night with the world-famous horse racing.
“Have you ever rode a horse in the Kentucky Derby?” He asked reporters at the Top Ten Media Day in Indianapolis. “Neither did I. But I can imagine the kind of expectation you feel just before you enter the slide and they open that door. Then when they open the door, you go! Looking forward to being with the top five teams The Huntington Bank Stadium started this season, the audience returned for the first time, the sold-out crowd, we played with the top five opponents for the third time in a row, which is great.”
Cue the Kentucky Derby Trumpeter to play “Call to The Post”.
On Thursday, the United States played against one of the thoroughbreds of college football on national television, starting the 2021 season. The Gophers have sold about 6,000 new season tickets, and the audience is expected to be sold out, and the number of spectators will increase sharply after the end of the 2019 season. The defending top ten champion and national runner-up Buckeyes came to Minnesota with a 14-point advantage, defeating the Gophers, which had a 3-4 lead in front of no fans last season, and refused to participate in the playoffs due to the pandemic.
According to data from sportsbettingdime.com, the Buckeyes won the conference for the fifth consecutive time with a minus 110 odds when the top ten teams were in trouble. Wisconsin adds 400; Pennsylvania State University adds 600; Minnesota tops the list with 2,400 points.
According to the annual Cleveland website pre-season survey, the Gophers are expected to rank fourth among the top ten teams in the Western Conference, after Wisconsin, Iowa and Northwestern University. But internally, the goal of the Gophers is to win the division championship and may have a rematch with the Buckeyes in the top ten championship game on December 4.
“We know this is a huge challenge,” Fleck said of the opening game.
Although Flake used a colorful sports metaphor to describe the first game, it was still a football game. “Our players are taught to be humble enough to know that if you are not at their best, anyone can beat you, but confident enough to know that if you are at their best, you can beat anyone,” he said. “That’s how they train. It’s like a derby-there are so many horses, one can beat the other on any given day.”
Glen Mason was loyal to both gophers and horse chestnuts. He played at Ohio State University in the 1970s, served as an assistant coach in Columbus from 1978-85, and then head coach of Gophers from 1997-2006. But he did not hesitate to choose the Gophers to win on Thursday.
“I think it will be a close match,” Mason said on KFAN on Monday. “I think if they win, it will be a crazy game.”
This is not how the money bet at the beginning of the game comes in. The initial line was set on the Buckeyes, which is a two-touchdown favorite. In the past month, it has not moved more than 1/2.
“90% of BetMGM’s bets and 86% of funding are at Ohio State University,” Dan Wetzel shared on the College Football Inquirer podcast on Monday. One factor in the outcome and spread will be the health of Gophers receiver Chris Autman-Bell, who was considered by Fleck to be the game time decision after his ankle injury on August 12th. Fleck said that “CrAB” has improved, but emphasized that his overall health will affect his decision to play.
The two best victories of the Gophers during Fleck’s tenure were headlined in running competitions: defeating Wisconsin on the way to the end of the 2018 regular season, and defeating Auburn in the Inland Bowl on New Year’s Day 2020. Both games saw Minnesota control the melee line and run the ball to victory, prominent in the long, breakthrough drive of the two Ws.
“We are proud of possession,” running back Mo Ibrahim said. “This is one of the most important things for Coach Flake in every game.”
With Ibrahimovic, the most experienced offensive line in college football before defending the top ten run this year, this seems to be the best formula for the Gophers to break and open up 2021.
Ibrahim said: “We know what we are doing.” “(Ohio) represents…the entire Big Ten. They make it to the playoffs every year. Those guys will be ready. Knowing that we have to Participating in our’A’ game on Thursday night, it just gave us a little encouragement.”
U defensive end Boye Mafe is expected to hit the offensive line praised by the Buckeyes on the other side of the ball. “This is a very talented team, from top to bottom, they have a lot of depth,” Maffey said. “They are traditionally a talented team… we are preparing for this. This is exciting because this is another challenge. You don’t want to oppose Joe Schmoer.”
The Gophers have an advantage in quarterback experience. Tanner Morgan’s record as a starter is 18-8, and CJ Stroud will start for the first time.
After the horses ran off the chute—well, the opening game—it was another football game, and Morgan couldn’t wait, especially after wearing a non-contact jersey at the autumn camp.
“Whenever you hit the ball for the first time, it’s almost like,’I’m a football player again,'” Morgan said. “I haven’t been beaten for a long time. It’s a good feeling.”