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Minnesota Gophers Basketball The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is the oldest and largest part of the University of Minnesota school system. Its student body is the second-largest in the United States according to autumn 2005 statistics, with 51,175 students.

The University was originally built in 1851 and was located about a mile upstream of the Mississippi river from where it stands today. The school had to shut down following a financial crisis during the American Civil War, but reopened in 1867. It was upgraded from a preparatory school to a college in 1869.

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Today's campus has buildings on both banks of the river, but the East Bank is the main portion of the campus and covers 307 acres. The West Bank of the campus has been growing rapidly, first seeing major development in the 1960s. The West Bank covers 53 acres and is home to many arts buildings and the business school.

Minnesota Gophers BasketballSports teams associated with the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus go by the Golden Gophers moniker. The Gopher mascot is a tradition as old as the state. Minnesota was tabbed the “Gopher State” in 1857 and the University appropriately adopted the animal as its mascot. However, the “Golden” adjective has not always been a part of the Gopher nickname. During the 1930s, the Gophers wore gold jerseys and pants. Legendary KSTP-AM radio announcer Halsey Hall coined the term “Golden Gophers” in reference to the team’s all-gold attire on the field. The term stuck and the University amended their formal moniker to the Golden Gophers. Despite the golden term, the teams’ colors include maroon, white and gold.

The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team is a member of the Big Ten Conference in the NCAA. Most of the facilities that the University uses for training and competitive play are located on the East Bank of the Minneapolis campus, however the football team plays at the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome, home of the NFL Minnesota Vikings and MLB Minnesota Twins, in Minneapolis. The Metrodome is located about 2.5 miles from the main campus.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers football team is rich with history and success. The football team has won 6 National Championships (1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941, 1960), 18 conference titles and can boast more than 50 first-team All-Americans. The Golden Gophers reached a new milestone during the 1997 season. The final game of the year in Iowa City, Iowa, was the team’s 1,000th game in school history. With the success of the first 1,000 games, the University and the state of Minnesota can take pride in knowing that the next 1,000 games should be just as exciting.

Minnesota football had its first successful season in 1892 when the team went undefeated despite having to play up and coming powerhouses and future Big Ten opponents Michigan and Northwestern. That year the team won it’s first-ever conference title, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the Northwest. The first Big Nine title game for the Gophers was played in 1900. That season, Minnesota went 10-0-2 under the first year direction of Dr. Henry Williams. Dr. Williams was Minnesota’s first full-time, salaried coach. In 21 years as football coach he compiled a 136-33-11 record. The Gophers won eight Big Ten titles under Williams and he was appropriately honored in 1950 when the U of M Fieldhouse was renamed Williams Arena.

Minnesota Gophers BasketballIn 1904, the University Minnesota rolled to its most lopsided victory ever, a 146-0 victory over Grinnell. In this game Minnesota broke what was referred to as “the world’s record for scoring,” the previous high being a 130-0 Michigan victory over West Virginia. The Golden Gophers were consistent, scoring 73 points in each half. The record stood for 13 years and Minnesota went on to a perfect season that year, winning all 13 games.

On Thursday, March 6, 1924, in spite of snow and cold wind, 500 Minnesotans gathered at the corner of Oak Street and University Avenue to watch University President L.D. Coffman pitch the first spadeful of dirt, which marked the official start to the building of Memorial Stadium. The Gophers would play at Memorial stadium for the next 57 years until the stadium was in need of extreme unfeasible renovations. A move to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome was the best solution to finding a “home” for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The 1934 season will be remembered as one of the most memorable in Golden Gopher history. A 34-0 win over Wisconsin in the final game of the season gave Minnesota an undefeated season and shot them into national prominence as they were voted national champions in every poll for the first time. Minnesota and Wisconsin have met more times than any other NCAA Division I-A football rivalry. Since 1907 the two teams have played on an annual basis, the third-longest continuous series in college football. Since 1948, the two teams have played for Paul Bunyan’s Axe, a seven-foot traveling trophy that goes to the winner of the “Border Battle.”

The 1941 season will not only be remembered as a national championship season, but also as a year in which, possibly the best football player in Golden Gopher history, Bruce Smith, became the first and only U of M player to be honored with the Heisman Trophy Award. Smith was a great ball carrier, a fine passer, a superb blocker and a very strong defensive player. Beyond that he was an outstanding spiritual leader.

The 1960 season will always be remembered as the biggest turnaround in the history of Minnesota football. The Golden Gophers finished the 1959 season 2-7 overall and dead last in the Big Ten. The 1960 season saw the Gophers finish 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the conference to earn the school’s first trip to the Rose Bowl. The national champion Golden Gophers lost the Rose Bowl game, 17-7, to Washington. The Gophers finally got their Rose Bowl victory on Jan. 1, 1962 as All-American quarterback Sandy Stephens ran for two of the tree touchdowns to win the game 21-3 against UCLA.

Minnesota has had its name on several major individual awards. In addition to Bruce Smith’s Heisman Trophy Award in 1941, Tom Brown won the Outland Trophy in 1960 as the nation’s finest interior lineman. He also finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting. The Golden Gophers rode his broad shoulders to a No. 1 national ranking, a trip to the Rose Bowl and a national championship. The 1929 season will be remembered as the final season for Bronko Nagurski. Sportswriters decided after his senior season in 1929, that he was the best fullback and the best tackle in the nation, making Nagurski the only player ever to be named first-team, consensus All-American at two different positions in the same season. In 1979, his No. 72 was officially retired from the Minnesota roster.

Bobby Bell earned the Outland Trophy in 1962 by a landslide vote. A member of the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame, Bell led the Golden Gophers to a Rose Bowl win in 1962. Called “the best football player we’ve ever had here” by the legendary Butch Nash, Bell could run as fast as the running backs and throw farther than the quarterbacks but ended up playing offensive and defensive tackle. Tyrone Carter established himself as one of the greatest defensive backs in NCAA history, racking up 582 career tackles, the most ever by a defensive back in NCAA history. The strong safety won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back in 1999.

The rich history of the Golden Gopher Football program is well known by most college football fans. The Golden Gophers will be a force to reckon with in the Big Ten Conference for many years to come. The Gophers have went to a bowl game for the second straight season and with talks of a new on-campus stadium and plenty of talent on the benches, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team will continue to play a game you won’t want to miss!

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