Jerry Kill's top five games at Minnesota
The great Jerry Kill is 54 years young today, and for the last four years, he’s been leading the revival of the Minnesota football program. In his four seasons in the Twin Cities, he took the Gophers out of the Big Ten basement and had them playing for a West Division championship in 2014.
That game, unfortunately for Kill, did not go down as one of his banner victories. But there are plenty that did.
5. Sept. 27, 2014: Minnesota 30, Michigan 14
No, Michigan wasn’t Michigan last year, but winning in the Big House is impressive no matter what season it is. The Gophers kicked Big Ten play off with a message to the rest of the conference. Kill’s defense bottled up the Wolverines, holding them to just 171 yards of total offense. In Kill’s first trip to Ann Arbor in 2011, the Gophers were rolled 58-0. It only took three years for him to turn the tide on one of the nation’s most historic programs.
4. Oct. 29, 2011: Minnesota 22, Iowa 21
Kill’s first Big Ten victory came in satisfying fashion. Marqueis Gray’s diving touchdown run in the final three minutes lifted Minnesota to a dramatic comeback win. Students rushed the TCF Bank Stadium field and celebrated the victory after Minnesota was routed by an average of 38 points in its first three Big Ten games. The Floyd of Rosedale bronze pig was the high point of a rocky first season in Minneapolis.
3. Oct. 27, 2013: Minnesota 34, Nebraska 23
No more Mr. Nice Guy. Nebraska had beaten Minnesota 16 straight times — dating all the way back to 1960 by an average of 31 points — before Kill’s team put its foot down. Minnesota hadn’t even led against Nebraska in a game since 1967. Not only was the victory Kill’s first over a ranked opponent at Minnesota, it also made the Gophers bowl-eligible. To be fair, Kill was forced to take in the game from the press box while recovering from his epilepsy. But players credited the win to his pregame and halftime inspirational talks.
2. Nov. 9, 2013: Minnesota 24, Penn State 10
Ok, so Kill was still on his leave of absence for this one, too. But when students chant, “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” it’s tough to deny his impact on the victory. Minnesota’s eighth win of the year also marked the first time it rattled off four straight in Big Ten play since 1973. It gave the Gophers their first victory against Penn State since 2004 and it clinched the program’s best season in 10 years.
1. Nov. 22, 2014: Minnesota 28, Nebraska 24
To say Minnesota’s schedule was backloaded is putting it lightly. The Gophers needed a win against either eventual-national champion Ohio State or at Nebraska — a place it hadn’t won at in eight meetings dating back to 1960 — to play for a Big Ten West Division crown in Wisconsin. The Gophers got their upset in Lincoln, ending a 20-game road losing streak against ranked opponents. Briean Boddy-Calhoun’s forced fumble of De’Mornay Pierson-El prevented a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute and helped Minnesota preserve a 14-point comeback. Even more impressively, Kill steered the ship after workhorse David Cobb was injured in the second half. A classic Kill victory was the highlight of his four years in the Twin Cities.