It’s that time of year again. The State Fair is in full swing, it’s Labor Day Weekend, the temperature is somehow in the low 70’s every day and the Minnesota Golden Gophers kicked off their 2019 football campaign last night against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
In what has now become a yearly special, it is time for my annual Gopher Football Preview.
8/29 vs South Dakota State. This should be a win. Plain and simple. The Jacks come in ranked as the 4th best team in the FCS and they have been on an impressive run. They are supposed to compete for the FCS Title. However, the Gophers received top 25 votes, are favored by 12.5 points, and I’m hoping they took care of business last night. 1-0.
9/7 at Fresno State. This game is a lot trickier than the average fan realizes. Fresno State finished 12-2 last season and the Gophers were able to sneak away with a 14-7 win thanks to a crazy interception from Antoine Winfield Jr. Travelling to California for a 9:30 pm game scares me against a team this good, but I’ll give them the slight edge. 2-0.
9/14 vs Georgia Southern. SKI-U-MAH. 3-0.
9/28 at Purdue. Another game that is trickier than fans might think, heading to Purdue is never an easy game. Especially since the Gophers smashed the Boilermakers 41-10 last season and they will be motivated. However, I think the Gophs have enough to pull through. 4-0.
10/5 vs Illinois. The Fighting Illini gave Minnesota the business last year in a crazy 55-31 loss for one of their only two conference wins on the season. This won’t happen at TCF Bank Stadium. 5-0.
10/12 vs Nebraska. This will be the biggest test for the Gophers in the first two months of the season. The Huskers also handled Minnesota in a 53-28 blow out last season in Lincoln. Currently ranked 24th in the country, Nebraska has high expectations and are picked by some to win the Big 10 West. I’m 51/49 on this one, but for the sake of being excited about this squad… 6-0.
10/19 at Rutgers. I mean, come on. 7-0.
10/26 vs Maryland. Here is another bad team that finished worse than Minnesota in the standings who destroyed them. The Terrapins dominated the Gophers early in the season last year 42-13, but I think the Gophers will be rolling into another home win. 8-0.
11/9 vs Penn State. Are you excited for College Gameday to do their show at the University of Minnesota this year? Dinky town will be crazy as Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and friends do their show in front of a bunch of passionate and excited Gophers fans. I can’t wait to see it. But we aren’t beating Penn State. 8-1.
11/16 at Iowa. Another difficult game. The back half of this schedule is infinitely more difficult than the first half. I think Minnesota hits a slump after the Penn State game and the Hawkeyes defend their home turf in a close one. 8-2.
11/23 at Northwestern. I think the slump will continue. The atmosphere is always weird in Evanston and the Wildcats are always feisty. After an 8-0 start, the Gophers will fall to 8-3.
11/30 vs Wisconsin. This will be the most important game of the season as it very well might be for the Big 10 West title and a chance to head to the Big 10 championship game in Indianapolis. After beating Wisconsin for the first time in far too long last year, Minnesota makes it two in a row and the Axe stays in Minneapolis. 9-3.
Admittedly, this is a little bit of a homer outlook on the season. However, if the team is as good as everyone tells me it is and as good as the coach makes it seem, there is no reason they should not start 7-1 or 8-0. They should be in the mix in those last four games and they should be competing for a Big 10 West championship. Anything less will be disappointing.