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Minnesota Gophers 2016 Football Preview: Schedule, Predictions & Analysis

Minnesota Gophers 2016 Football Preview: Schedule, Predictions & Analysis

Minnesota Gophers 2016 Football Preview: Schedule, Predictions & Analysis
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Schedule

Minnesota Gophers 2016 Football Schedule

2016 Season Preview

In 2016, it will all come down to the quarterback position for the Gophers. Mitch Leidner should be on the hot-seat early on, but the coaching staff hasn’t shown much trust in any of the young talent behind him. With the likely scenario that Seth Green and Mark Williams redshirt, Conor Rhoda and Demry Croft would remain as the two backup options. We project Rhoda as the backup and Croft as the third string, though both could see playing time if Leidner starts shaky. Still, this appears to finally be Mitch’s chance to shine. There are no excuses or injuries to hold him back, so we should find out very quickly if he can take this team to the next level or not.

On the defensive side, much will rest on the shoulders of Jalen Myrick. With Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun NFL-bound, Myrick is left to pick up the slack. We are optimistic about his ability to keep the passing game in check.

Ultimately, we see this as a very crucial season for coach Tracy Claeys. With many critical of his in-game coaching abilities last year, this season will show us whether or not he is capable of coaching in the Big Ten. We are unenthused with Claeys, but hopeful that he can at least maintain the defense. It is hard to not see the Gophers matching or even eclipsing their 5-7 regular season record last year. However, with Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Northwestern all favorites over the Gophers in the west, the 6 win over/under line is understandable.

 

Game-by-Game Analysis

Picks by Ryan Blake (@ryanfblake) & Tony Gergen (@tgergs24)

 

Thu, Sep. 1 vs. Oregon State | Get Tickets From $39

After losing each of their final nine games last season, Oregon State looks to rebound under 2nd-year coach Gary Andersen, former coach of the Badgers. With the quarterback situation still very much up in the air, the Beavers will likely have struggles early on this year. With that said, we expect a win here for the Gophers.

Ryan: Win 27-13

Tony: Win 24-14

Sat, Sep. 10 vs. Indiana State | Get Tickets From $37

Indiana State went 5-6 as an FCS team last season, including a 38-14 loss to Purdue. We don’t see any reason for major improvement this year, this should be the easiest game on the Gophers’ Schedule.

Ryan: Win 40-17

Tony: Win 31-16

Sat, Sep. 24 vs. Colorado State | Get Tickets From $44

Colorado State is back, and it won’t get any easier this year. For those who don’t remember, the Gophers trailed 7-6 at half to the Rams last season even though CSU was without receiver Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins. The Gophers fought back for a scrappy 23-20 OT victory, and this year’s game could play out in a similar fashion.

Ryan: Lose 24-23

Tony: Win 21-17

Sat, Oct. 1 at Penn State | Get Tickets From $63

The first major test comes October 1st as the Gophers head to Beaver Stadium to take on the Nittany Lions. Even though Penn State is only rated slightly higher than Minnesota, this is a tough environment to win. Can Leidner and Claeys pull it off? We say no.

Ryan: Lose 17-10

Tony: Lose 30-24

Sat, Oct. 8 vs. Iowa | Get Tickets From $117

A rematch of the shootout at Kinnick last year, the Gophers will face an Iowa team many are bullish on. Even odds to win the Big Ten West, Vegas sees it as a real possibility that Iowa runs the regular season table again (we think Michigan has other plans). Is the Iowa hype real? Can the Gophers turn a 5 point loss on the road into a win at home? We are split on the Gophers’ chances.

Ryan: Win 34-30

Tony: Lose 28-17

Sat, Oct. 15 at Maryland | Get Tickets From $6

We don’t want to talk about this game. The Gophers will probably be right in the vegas zone (between 4 and 6 point favorites). But it feels like the disappointment game that happens every year. We’ll take the Gophers in a close one, even though it smells like our annual dud.

Ryan: Win 30-24

Tony: Win 23-21

Sat, Oct. 22 vs. Rutgers | Get Tickets From $65

Don’t even think about this one, it’s a W.

Ryan: Win 31-20

Tony: Win 34-14

Sat, Oct. 29 at Illinois | Get Tickets From $11

Like the Maryland game, there could be more problems here than meets the eye. We’re 3-1 in our last 4 against the Illini, but the loss came in 2014 on the road. Illinois is very much in a rebuilding phase and nobody expects them to contend, so we’ll hesitantly chalk this up as a single digit win.

Ryan: Win 26-17

Tony: Win 23-15

Sat, Nov. 5 vs. Purdue | Get Tickets From $46

This should be an easy win. If we can’t beat Purdue at home by this point in the season then Leidner is probably benched and Claeys is packing his bags.

Ryan: Win 33-10

Tony: Win 28-10

Sat, Nov 12 at Nebraska | Get Tickets From $65

Nebraska, once again, looks like the team everybody is overrating in the preseason. On one hand it’s understandable – Tommy Armstrong Jr. returns for his senior year – but it feels like the same old story for the Cornhuskers. We give Nebraska the edge in this one, but only because we aren’t confident in the Gophers on the road in the Big Ten.

Ryan: Lose 28-27

Tony: Lose 31-20

Sat, Nov 19 vs. Northwestern | Get Tickets From $37

After being embarrassed 27-0 by the Wildcats last year, the Gophers will look to take advantage of the TCF Bank crowd to get revenge. It’s not an impossible task, as nobody is expecting the same surprise Northwestern team of last year to show up again. Still, we could see a letdown after a close loss at Nebraska. We’re split on the outcome here.

Ryan: Lose 32-16

Tony: Win 20-16

Sat, Nov 26 at Wisconsin | Get Tickets From $41

Tough to call this one especially because it will depend on what form the teams are in toward the end of the season. It’s tempting to give the Gophers a shot as we expect a slightly down year for the Badgers, but history tells us otherwise. Maybe it’s the homer inside of us speaking, but this one should be closer than most expect.

Ryan: Lose 27-20

Tony: Lose 27-24

The Verdict

Ryan: 7-5

Bowl Game: Foster Farms Bowl vs Utah

Tony: 8-4

Bowl Game: TaxSlayer Bowl vs Florida

About Ryan

Ryan is a student at the University of Minnesota studying business. He lives in Dinkytown and writes about Gophers sports.
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