What a difference nine months makesLess than a year ago – December 11, 2010, to be exact — Minnesota Duluth’s football team welcomed Northwest Missouri State to Malosky Stadium for a national semifinal showdown. The game-time temperature was somewhere between zero and “are you serious right now?”
By: Louie St. George, for the Duluth Budgeteer News
From the “Only in Northeastern Minnesota” Department:
Less than a year ago – December 11, 2010, to be exact — Minnesota Duluth’s football team welcomed Northwest Missouri State to Malosky Stadium for a national semifinal showdown. The game-time temperature was somewhere between zero and “are you serious right now?”
Fires danced around the stadium and the hot chocolate was on the house. A hearty few fans watched the action from snowbanks that lined the field. As the Bulldogs staved off the visitors, 17-14, in thrilling fashion to advance to their second national championship game in three seasons, the wind chill dipped to 15 below zero. Tears of joy were strictly forbidden — lest they freeze upon release.
You get the idea — it was a historically icy contest.
Last week, the scene couldn’t have been any more different. With the Bulldogs waxing Upper Iowa 49-22, temps soared into the 80s. The sun relentlessly beat down on the home stands for three hours as UMD won its 17th consecutive game. Shirts were off, sunglasses were on and programs were turned into minifans.
Ice cream and bottled water were hot commodities while fans sought a shady reprieve under and behind the grandstands.
The balmy weather gave way to a hot topic: the fact that UMD’s past two home games have featured a roughly 95-degree difference in temperature. 95 degrees.
Where else could that possibly happen? Bemidji? Perhaps, but only if the Beavers found a way to play deep into the postseason and thus, deep into December. St. Cloud State? Hardly, not with the Huskies playing in a veritable tropical paradise compared to the Northland.
Again, two games and a 95-degree difference.
While the weather changed dramatically, one thing remained the same: UMD is a really, really good football team, and the Bulldogs proved it in their home opener despite looking stagnant at times.
Junior quarterback Chase Vogler completed 16 of 19 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and Zach Hulce amassed 118 of UMD’s 245 rushing yards. Travis Nordhus gave the ’Dogs the lead for good with his electric 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown midway through the opening quarter.
The Bulldogs have now won 31 straight Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference contests. And 2011 is setting up much the same way 2010 — and 2008, for that matter — did, with overwhelming potential for an unblemished regular season. Road trips to Bemidji later this month and St. Cloud State the end of October appear to be the lone roadblocks to perfection. If that’s the case, UMD again will be hosting playoff affairs in November and, if everything goes according to plan, December.
Something tells me the ice cream will have long since left Malosky Stadium by then, and the only purpose for sunglasses will be to protect against the blinding glare of those big snowbanks.
Sure, it’s a week late, but my Super Bowl prediction for 2011: The San Diego Chargers will beat the Philadelphia Eagles 38- 34 in Indianapolis. …
The Duluth Amateur Youth Basketball Association (DAYBA) will start accepting registrations for its rec leagues this week. The leagues are open to boys and girls in grades five through ten. Visit dayba.org for more information and to print a registration form. …
Former UMD All-American running back Isaac Odim was cut by the Chargers near the end of training camp. Odim told the Bulldogs website that he’ll stay in shape in case San Diego or another team calls during this season or next summer. Otherwise, he’ll head off to Duke for graduate school next fall.
The Minnesota Gophers football team paid New Mexico State $800,000 to play at TCF Bank Stadium last weekend, meaning the Aggies got close to a million bucks to upset the Gophers. Money well spent, fellas.
Read more of St. George’s Random Rumblings at louiestgeorge.blog.com.