P.J. Fleck needed just two years to do something the three previous Minnesota football coaches hadn’t done. In his second season at the helm, Fleck brought Paul Bunyan’s Axe back to Dinkytown.
Minnesota posted a lopsided 37-15 victory over Wisconsin in the regular season finale in 2018, winning the rivalry bout for the first time in 14 seasons. But it wasn’t just the significance of beating the Badgers and ending an ugly losing streak that has Fleck fired up. The third-year head coach believes that game could be a program-altering moment.
“We went for it on fourth down three times because we were going to go win the game!” Fleck said at a speaking engagement in May, according to the Pioneer Press. “We were going to go win it! We weren’t going to sit there and say, ‘Lets play field position.’ We were going to go win the game because that game, in my opinion, set the entire tone for the next two or three decades of Gopher football.”
The win over Wisconsin helped the Gophers finish the year with a 3-1 record, which included a 34-10 thrashing of Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl. Now, Minnesota heads into the 2019 season right in the thick of a wide open B1G West.
Fleck and the Gophers will open the 2019 season on Thursday, Aug. 29 at home against South Dakota State.