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Embrace your hopes, not your fears

Being a Minnesota sports fan often means existing in a contradictory state: you’re more optimistic and less afraid of poor results when a team is simply decent. But you are pessimistic and scared when a team seems really special.

Let’s give it a name: the Minnesota Sports Scores Paradox. The better things look, the worse they can get. The worse things seem, the better they can get.

We can be forgiven for taking this confusing approach by default because, well, the evidence suggests that it happened that way. Perhaps Minnesota sports fans intuitively understand regression and progression to the mean.

Or maybe they just had too many hopes, only to be knocked down just when they started to believe. (If you felt that watching the Vikings get hit on Monday Night Football a few days ago, for example, the injuries are very fresh).

I feel that sentiment applies to the Gophers 2022 football team as well – something I talked about on Friday’s Daily Delivery podcast.

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest the Big Ten West is very winnable this season. There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that they are a very good football team.

The Gophers are No. 2 in FBS in total offense AND total defense after three non-conference routs. They have depth and balance on both sides of the ball, as well as an uncommon combination of conviction and focus.

“When you come together for a common cause and with a common goal, great things are going to happen,” Gophers linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin said during Thursday’s podcast.

Inwardly, Gophers show no fear. They only see the opportunity ahead, with the next challenge being the start of the Big Ten season at Michigan State on Saturday.

Outwardly, however, some Gophers fans might be wondering this: is Minnesota really as good as it looks so far? After all, the three opponents on his schedule so far — New Mexico State, Western Illinois and Colorado — appear to be less than robust competition.

Should the Gophers really be the three-point favorites on the road, against a Spartans team that was ranked No. 11 in the country before a loss last weekend to Washington knocked them out of the Top 25?

I do not know. I know it might be time to break away from the Minnesota sports scores paradox.

With the Gophers, try this: embrace your hopes, not your fears.

startribune Gt Itly

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