Odds and Schedule
Minnesota will try and make the next step this season under Jerry Kill after improving for the second straight year, finishing 8-5 in 2013. That’s going to be a hard feat and not just because of their Schedule. They lost about half of their starters from a year ago and that includes a couple NFL talents on defense.
The Gophers had the worst passing offense in the Big Ten a year ago, and they haven’t exactly improved in that area. Mitch Leidner will take over as the starter after fighting with Philip Nelson last year. That should help a bit, but it’s not like Leidner is a world-class talent. He was more effective on the ground last year (407 yards, 7 TDs) and that will probably be the case again without much in the receiving Game. Their top receivers last year had 25 receptions, and one was a tight end (Maxx Williams) and the other was a senior. Due to that, the Gophers will once again run behind a solid offensive line that returns most of their talent.
Joining Leidner will be a stable of backs, with David Cobb (1,202 yards, seven TDs) coming out of nowhere last season. Rodrick Williams, Donnell Kirkwood and even freshman speedster Berkley Edwards figure to get touches out of the backfield.
The defense improved a great deal last season and was one of the reasons they were able to win some big Games. However, they lost their stud tackle and safety to the NFL. On the positive side of that, Minnesota has six starters returning and enough experience to keep this unit rolling. Their ends are probably the best area of this defense and that should help a young secondary if they can get to the quarterback.
Minnesota’s Schedule is arguably tougher than last year’s, but they should still reach a bowl Game. They get to face Michigan and Ohio State from the East division and that won’t help matters. Road Games at TCU, Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin are extremely daunting as well. Throw in a home Game against Iowa, a team they lost to in the same position last year, and there is a possibility of six losses if they can’t get an upset.
The Horned Frogs will be favored at home in their matchup with the Gophers, but don’t be surprised if Minnesota comes out on top in that one. That would be a big win for this team early in the year. It will be low-scoring with plenty of defense, but if Leidner can maintain the offense without giving the ball away, their running Game can win the Game for the Gophers. OUtside of a Game or two last year, this is a squad that fights every time they’re out on the field and should have a solid ATS record as long as the bookmakers underrate them again.
Minnesota Gophers College Football Schedule
Aug. 28 vs. Eastern Illinois
Sep. 6 vs. Middle Tennessee
Sep. 13 at TCU
Sep. 20 vs. San Jose State
Sep. 27 at Michigan
Oct. 11 vs. Northwestern
Oct. 18 vs. Purdue
Oct. 25 at Illinois
Nov. 8 vs. Iowa
Nov. 15 vs. Ohio State
Nov. 22 at Nebraska
Nov. 29 at Wisconsin