MINNEAPOLIS — As Gophers fans poured onto TCF Bank Field to celebrate the upset victory over Penn State, there was nothing but pure jubilation on their faces.
But just moments earlier, as Penn State drove down the field aiming to score the game winning touchdown, many Gophers fans couldn't help but feel a bit of "defensive pessimism."
"We've lived in Minnesota too long. I think part of it is, if you haven't been through something before, it's natural to think, 'I've seen this track before and I know how it's going to end,'" said psychology professor John Tauer.
Tauer believes the victory might have been a tipping point for fans.
"My hunch is, next week watching Iowa, you're going to be thinking, more of, 'We're going to find a way to win this game,'" Tauer said.
The question now is how far can the Gophers go?
"I mean, the best case scenario is this magical run continues," said beat writer Andy Greder from the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Greeder expects Minnesota to move way up in the college football playoff rankings when they're updated Tuesday.
And if the Gophers beat Iowa, Northwestern, and Wisconsin - then Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship, Greder says they'd almost certainly make the playoffs for the national championship.
"That would be the absolute dream scenario for the Gophers," Greder said.
If not the playoffs, then the Rose Bowl is very attainable, Greder said, even if the Gophers lose one of their remaining regular season games.
The rest of the bowl games are determined after the four playoff teams are picked. Since Ohio State is so highly ranked, the Buckeyes would certainly be picked for the playoffs if they win the Big Ten, leaving the runner-up to play in the Rose Bowl.
Minnesota hasn't played in Pasadena on New Year's Day since 1961.
If Minnesota loses to Iowa and Wisconsin, then the Badgers would likely play in the Big Ten Championship, and Minnesota would play in a different bowl game, according to Greder.
"It would be a good bowl game. Maybe the Citrus Bowl maybe the Outback Bowl," Greder said. "So, nice bowls in Florida on New Year’s Day, but not the kind of heights they could be going to right now."