Gophers Become Bowl Eligible

CHAMPAIGN (Ill.) - Saturday was a momentous day for Jerry Kill and the Gophers. The Maroon and Gold topped Illinois, 17-3, giving them six victories on the year, enough for their first bowl visit since 2009. At Saturday's press conference, Kill and his players expressed the importance of making it to the postseason.

The last time the Gophers made it to a bowl game, Tim Brewster was head coach and starting quarterback Philip Nelson was a sophomore at Mankato West High School.

The two seasons following their bowl loss to Iowa State have produced consecutive 3-9 seasons under Brewster, Jeff Horton, and Kill. Getting back to the postseason is a sign of the progress Kill has been attempting to make all year.

"It feels great, it's been a couple of years since I've had the opportunity, two long hard years of struggling," said senior D.L. Wilhite. "It means a lot for the program moving forward and it feels very good to say that hopefully, God willing, we'll be going back to a bowl."

A bowl game was a goal the team had for the seniors.

"We've been talking about this all year long," said Nelson. "We want to send these guys out on a good note and these seniors are who we're all playing for right now."

Kill also expressed the importance of having the seniors ending their career at a bowl.

"I just think of the seniors, and I am happy for them," he said. "I am happy for those older kids because when you have a coaching transition, it's a hard thing on them. It's been tough but they have responded well and I am just happy for those kids because they have been through a lot."

With two regular season games left on the schedule, the Gophers aren't content with just six victories.

"Now that we're bowl eligible, we're not done yet," said Nelson. "We want to keep winning and these next two games are important too, just like any other game."

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