There was no tailgate this week. That's right, no tailgate. Minnesota has a detached campus. Detached meaning that the stadium is not within the confines of the campus. This makes the college atmosphere surrounding the Metrodome less than festive. So after late night dinner at Murray's steakhouse the previous evening, the bulk of the crew made their way on Saturday morning to Minnesota's campus to eat at Al's Breakfast, a local greasy spoon and Gopher favorite for a morning meal. The entire restaurant was the size of a small hallway, and only had fourteen seats, all counter front bar stools. Patrons lines up behind the seats and out the door, waiting for the unique taste of food cooked on an uncleaned griddle. We almost felt like we were tasting a bit of history, if history is grease left over from hash browns cooked the last time Minnesota had the Jug in their possession. Nonetheless, the atmosphere was great, and the food was too.
With no tailgate in sight, the usual suspects of UMTailgate.com took their place in Hubert's, a tavern within spitting distance of the dome and adorned with Twins, Vikings, and Gopher memorabilia. We arrived a little after noon and settled in for seven hours of beer, bar food, and football on TV. It was interesting to see this group sitting around on a fall Saturday afternoon watching college football on TV. Mind you, the crew in question hasn't missed a game between them this season, so watching games on TV comes only on bye weeks. Some friendly bets were placed between us as pitcher after pitcher and chicken wing after chicken wing arrived.
We stumbled into the dome, tipping our caps to UMTailgate.com Hall of Fame member John Dogan and his wife on the way to our seats. Tooting my own horn, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the 700 mile journey to the Metrodome completes my tour of the Big Ten stadiums, and I may have to admit that I saved the WORST for last, despite the fact that alcohol was served during the game. College football is meant to be played in the sun, meaning it should be both outdoors AND during the day. In Minneapolis we had neither. While the atmosphere was certainly unique, it had that manufactured feel about it, not unlike watching the Lions play in the Silverdome. The sound system was slightly better than at Riverview High School (Note: Riverview 27, Center Line 12...Pirates advance to Regional Finals at Marine City) and the turf was two-toned where they insert the Golden Gopher endzones onto the Viking's field surface.
What does all of this add up to? A big win for the Wolverines, who after allowing the Gophers back into the game early in the second half, dominated the end of the third and all of the fourth quarter to come away with a 41-24 victory. The Little Brown Jug remains in Ann Arbor, and all is well with the college football universe.
Up Next: Bucky Badger and Friends