Governor’s Bell Trophy Won by Golden Gophers
November 9, 2013

Adversity can manufacture harmony, as in the case of the University of Minnesota’s 2013 Golden Gopher football team’s surprising turn-around from a pair of embarrassing conference losses to Iowa and Michigan to four Big Ten wins in a row with the latest victim being Penn State before a crowd of 48,123 at TCF Bank Stadium on November 9.

Epileptic seizures have forced head coach Jerry Kill to the press box while assistant coach Tracy Claeys has taken Kill’s spot on the sidelines. The result has been wins over Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana, and Penn State. This marks the first time since the 1973 season that the Gophers have won four conference games in succession. That year, a Michigan loss also touched off a four game conference win streak for a team that under coach Cal Stoll finished 7-4. The current edition of Gophers already has eight wins.

“We never threw in the towel,” said Claeys, “even after we lost our first two conference games. We were disappointed at the time, but we could still see ourselves getting better.

“People who work hard eventually get rewarded.”

Claeys is a member of a coaching staff that is the most tenured in the nation. The group of Kill’s nine assistants and conditioning coach has served under him for a combined total of 124 years. Only Northwestern and Minnesota have had the same nine assistants for three straight years. Five of Kill’s former players are on the Minnesota staff. Loyalty to Kill has been the prime ingredient in the success story of the 2013 Gophers.

Freshmen and sophomores make up the majority of the team’s roster, but it was junior running back David “Corn” Cobb who stood out in the 24-10 victory over Penn State. Cobb rushed for 139 yards and a first-quarter touchdown. This marked Cobb’s fourth straight game in which Cobb has had 100-plus rushing yards. His rise coincides with the curreny Gopher win streak.

“Cobb might be our best defensive player if he keeps running like that,” Claeys remarked. “Coach will tell us all the time that there’s no better defense than the one that is standing on the sideline watching game.”

Minnesota held the ball for 35 minutes and 28 seconds. Penn State had it for 24 minutes and 32 seconds. Minnesota jumped off to a 24-10 lead at halftime. The entire second half of the game was scoreless.

“Offensively, we didn’t hold our end of the bargain in the second half,” said Penn State coach Bill O’Brien. “I told the team that we will do a better coaching job. We’re going to make sure we put you guys in better positions to make plays. We’re going to make sure we do everything to help our seniors go out as winners.”

Left on Penn State’s schedule are games with Purdue, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

It has become a rarity for Minnesota to face the Nittany Lions on the football field. After popping up on the schedule this season for the first time since 2010, Penn State will disappear until 2016 when the Big Ten will mandate a schedule of nine conference games, owing to league expansion and the directives of the Big Ten TV network.

Thus, it becomes challenging to label Minnesota-PSU as a trophy game, even though there is a trophy, the Governor’s Victory Bell, involved. Upon grabbing the trophy from the Penn State sidelines, the overzealous Gophers broke it, reminding one that the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is also flawed. Oh well, we now have a few years to work to attempt repairs to the Governor’s Victory Bell.

“They’re bigger wins out there if we continue to believe.”

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