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We Sure Do Schedule A Lot of Big Ten Teams These Days...

In 1996, my freshman year, the Orange only needed one game in order to introduce me to the crushing sense of mediocrity that was the Coach P Era.  Coming off a Gator Bowl-winning season, the Orange were primed for big things behind sophomore QB Donovan McNabb.  To open the season, they hosted the highly-touted North Carolina TarHeels.  With expectations high, the Orange did what I would come to learn they always did in these situations...they lost. 

It was alright though, NC was pretty good that year and the Orange had a cupcake in week 2 to rebound against...the hapless Minnesota Golden Gophers.  The Gophers would finish that season 4-7 but one of those 4 wins happened to be against the Syracuse Orange(men), whom they defeated 35-33. The Orange, who I expected to be a solid contender, were now 0-2.  Helluva start to my fandom.

Incidentally, now 0-2 and without the pressure of expectations or the chance of national respect, the Orange rattled off eight-straight wins following that game, which was the hallmark of Paul Pasqualoni teams.  But I'll always remember that Minnesota game for that sense of "Oh God, what have I gotten myself into...why didn't I just go to Penn State instead" dread that came over me as I saw three more years of football futility staring me in the face.

Things changed, for both programs.  And now, more than a decade later, it looks like we're getting back together for old times sake (via Donnie Webb):

The Gophers have officially filled the empty slot on their 2009 schedule by agreeing to a home-and-home series with Syracuse.

In the agreement the Gophers will play at Syracuse next year and the Orangemen will come here to play on Sept. 22, 2012.

Assuming Mitch Browning is still offensive coordinator for the Orange next season, it'll be a homecoming of sorts for him.  He made his mark leading the Gopher O for nine seasons.

The article says that Minnesota will open their season with the Orange.which means the game will likely be played on August 29th.  The first three weeks of September are already booked for the Orange (Akron on 9/5, Penn State on 9/12 and Northwestern on 9/19)

So that's three Big Ten opponents in 2009.  I'm pretty sure if we schedule one more we qualify for Big Ten bowl bid consideration.  Read into that as you please...