A long time ago college sports fans longed for a matchup of Minnesota and Virginia. In the 1982 NCAA Tournament the schools were the top two seeds in the Mideast Regional before upsets knocked them out before Ralph Sampson and Randy Breuer could square off in the regional final. It may be twenty-three years after the fact and it may be a different sport, but Minnesota and Virginia will finally match up in the Music City Bowl on December 30.
Setting aside for a moment that any writer who links a minor bowl game this year to basketball upsets two decades ago has shown himself to be someone who really needs a girlfriend, this year's Music City Bowl does have more downside then up for the Golden Gophers.
Minnesota's football program is locked in a 7-8 win a year mode. To those of us who remember when things were far worse in the Twin Cities that's pretty good, but Glen Mason will need a breakout win to silence the inevitable calls for someone to take the program "to the next level." While he did beat Michigan in Ann Arbor this year, that was one of three games the Wolverines lost at home. A bowl game would have been the ideal place for Mason to deliver another juicy win.
But while Virginia is a very respectable football program they aren't much above the sport's middle-class, and even by their standards 2005 was a bit of a down year. The Cavs posted a 6-5 record in the ACC this year, and were routed at home by archrival Virginia Tech.
If Mason wins, he's only done what he's supposed to do. If he loses, it's a long offseason. Those are never the kind of bowl trips that are all that much fun.