Minnesota College Football Preview

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Minnesota Gophers

College Football

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Schedule and Odds

What Jerry Kill has done for the Minnesota football program can’t be said enough. The Gophers were far from relevant for a number of years before Kill arrived, and now they have made it to three straight bowl Games. While the Gophers have yet to get over the final hump to win the division, they are far from a walkover. Ohio State found that out last year when they only beat the Gophers by a touchdown.

Minnesota will host TCU on September 3rd and 5 dimes has the Gophers listed as whopping +17.5 underdogs in that contest. Those odds were posted in the spring, and naturally change so be sure to check in with 5 dimes for the latest odds.

Finding a replacement for stud running back David Cobb seemed to be Kill’s biggest task this offseason, but it looks like that’s pretty much settled. While Minnesota won’t use one guy exclusively like Cobb was, they have a few that should see carries. Rodrick Williams Jr. had his coming out party in the spring Game and should be the starter, but Rodney Smith and Berkley Edward could get touches as well. The bigger question will be in the passing Game where Mitch Leidner struggled all of last season completing 51.5% of his passes for 11 TDs and 8 INTs (rushed for 452 yards and 10 TDs). It doesn’t help that he’ll lose most of his top receiving threats. Someone will have to step up, or it could be another terrible year in the passing Game for Minnesota.

One of the differences on offense is that the Gophers have been trying out a bit of a no-huddle attack to give the defense different looks. Playmaker freshman Jeff Jones was a popular name in the spring and could turn into a star for this group and may easily turn into Leidner’s favorite passing target.

The Gophers defense has been feisty for the last couple of years and that’ll be the case again. Keep in mind this group never really was blown out, allowing no more than 34 points to the likes of TCU, Ohio State and Wisconsin. They lose Damien Wilson at middle linebacker, but as seen in the spring scrimmage, they have plenty of guys to work with in the middle including Cody Poock, Jonathan Celestin and Julian Huff.

Minnesota also has one of the better secondaries in the Conference with Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun returning. This is a group that could be getting a ton of attention early on, especially if they can stifle TCU at all in the first Game.

Getting to Minnesota’s Schedule, it’s not easy. They open against the Horned Fogs after losing at TCU 30-7 a year ago. That’s followed up by a road trip to Colorado State. While the Rams lose their coach and quarterback, it will be far from easy. In addition, the Gophers open the Big Ten campaign with two road Games at Northwestern and Purdue. They also get the unfortunate slate of Michigan and Ohio State out of the East.

While the Gophers aren’t expected to regress, their Schedule doesn’t help much. Winning home Games against the likes of Nebraska, Michigan and Wisconsin will be atop their list of priorities. Getting over that eight-win hump will be a real challenge this season, but if they can win a couple of those aforementioned home Games, it’ll be a possibility. The saying is getting old at this point, but don’t sleep on the Gophers.

2015 Minnesota Football Schedule

Sept. 3 vs. TCU
Sept 12 at Colorado State
Sept. 19 vs. Kent State
Sept. 26 vs. Ohio
Oct. 3 at Northwestern
Oct. 10 at Purdue
Oct. 17 vs. Nebraska
Oct. 31 vs. Michigan
Nov 7 at Ohio State
Nov. 14 at Iowa
Nov. 14 vs. Illinois
Nov. 28 vs. Wisconsin