MINNEAPOLIS — Football is back at the "U," which means it's time to row the boat ahead of Thursday night's Big Ten matchup between the Gophers and Ohio State Buckeyes.
"Under the lights, at the bank, I cant think of a better place to be," said Nadine Babu, Co-Owner of GopherHole.com.
There's a lot of hype heading into the year after the Gophers ended last season on a high note – beating the Auburn Tigers in the Outback Bowl.
Babu says with so much to look forward to, people are buzzing online.
"If you look at our GopherHole boards you're going to see a breakdown of anything from the new, black uniforms they're wearing, to the recruits, to the new guys they see, to the opponents, to everything about Ohio State," said Babu. She went on to say, "the Big Ten analysts are saying that this is the best Gophers team they've seen so we'll wait and see."
Businesses are also busy with both fans and students back on campus.
It's a welcome sight for Tony Nicklow, owner of Tony's Diner, which has been a go-to spot on campus for the last 20 years.
But the staple was almost forced to call it quits last year, as Dinkytown became more of a ghost town.
"Yeah during COVID it was extremely scary we didn't know what was going to happen and then we had the riots," explained Nicklow. "It was the most nerve-racking experience I ever been through, lost 20 pounds because of stress."
So needless to say, Nicklow and all the other business owners on campus are looking forward to the return of football season.
"Oh my god, we are so excited. The streets are filled with people again which is amazing. Ohio State fans are here."
As for predictions for Thursday's big home opener at Huntington Bank Stadium?
"My prediction is that the Gophers come out strong, they're energized, they're excited and I think they give Ohio State a pretty good game," said Babu.
"Gophers will be on top by seven," said Nicklow.
Here's what you need to know if you're heading to tonight's game:
- Fans don't need to show proof of COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test
- All fans are required to wear a mask when visiting bathrooms or concession stands, but they aren't required while outside
- Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. C.T.
- More than 90% of the Gopher team is vaccinated, but a backup plan is in place in the event of positive COVID cases