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Minnesota Gophers Football Preview: Predicting the 2016 season

It’s that time of the week….for all the talk to be put to action, as we as a staff at talking10 put our money where our mouths were all week.

Yes, after looking at the defense, offense and even our bold predictions on the talking10 podcast — it is time for us to look at the 2016 Minnesota Gophers schedule and predict the whole damn thing.

Yes, we’re going game-by-game as a staff and giving you a look at just how we all see the season play out.

Will there be a consensus on how the season goes? Let’s dive in to the 2016 Minnesota Gophers schedule, shall we…

2016 Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time/TV Tickets
Thurs.
Sep. 1
Beavers Oregon State Beavers
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Time TBA
BTN
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 10
Sycamores Indiana State Sycamores
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 17
OFF
Saturday
Sep. 24
Rams Colorado State Rams
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 1
Nittany Lions at Penn State Nittany Lions
Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 8
Hawkeyes Iowa Hawkeyes
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 15
Terrapins at Maryland Terrapins
Maryland Stadium, College Park, MD
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 22
Scarlet Knights Rutgers Scarlet Knights (HC)
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
11:00am CT
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 29
Fighting Illini at Illinois Fighting Illini
Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 5
Boilermakers Purdue Boilermakers
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 12
Cornhuskers at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
6:30pm CT
BTN
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 19
Wildcats Northwestern Wildcats
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 26
Badgers at Wisconsin Badgers
Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
TBA Buy
Tickets

*courtesy FBSchedules.com.

vs. Oregon State Beavers
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen is no stranger to games in TCF Stadium, but this trip is likely to end much different than the first one because he isn’t wearing the motion W on his chest anymore. Instead, his Oregon State team is in need of a lot of help and this is the classic case of a Pac-12 school coming to Big Ten country. Give me the home team every time.

vs. Indiana State Sycamores
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

The Sycamores are a good FCS program, but the level of play is just too much for them in this one. Do we even need to waste more words on it. Chalk it up to a pretty easy 2-0 start to the Tracy Claeys era as full-time head coach.

vs. Colorado State Rams
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

It appears the Rams’ high-water mark was the Jim McElwain era, and he is now plying his trade with the Florida Gators. However, this could be the toughest test the Gophers face in the non-conference season. Don’t be surprised to see this one close at the half before Minnesota pulls out a relatively easy second half victory. Besides, the Rams have their annual clash with in-state rival Colorado coming up following this contest…expect them to be looking ahead just a bit.

at Penn State Nittany Lions
Andy: Loss
Dave: Loss
Kevin: Loss
Zach: Loss

Boring agreement between our staff members again, huh? For me, this game is all about who is at home and the Victory Bell trophy will state in Happy Valley thanks in large part to home field advantage. That, and Penn State should still have one heck of a defense to combat anything the Gophers throw its way.

vs. Iowa Hawkeyes
Andy: Loss
Dave: Loss
Kevin: Loss
Zach: Win

Finally, some disagreement and I can see why. Earlier in the week I called this game as one of my four bold predictions. I still feel that was a bold prediction, mainly because I don’t actually seeing it happen. Yes, Iowa has its issues up front on both sides of the ball and may be a bit overhyped, but they are still a very good team. Crazy things happen in this series, and I expect a crazy finish to fall the way of the visitors in all reality.

at Maryland Terrapins
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Loss
Zach: Win

This is going to be the most telling and interesting game of the season for the Gophers in my opinion. One can not underestimate the travel, as this will be the longest trip Minnesota takes all season long, and Maryland’s atmosphere (or lack thereof) is tricky too. That being said, Maryland’s program is in a complete overhaul, while Minnesota is working with a much fuller deck. Give me Mitch Leidner over any quarterback the Terps throw out there in this contest.

vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Andy: Loss
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

Are you seeing a pattern yet? After a lot of agreement in the front part of the season for the Gophers, there’s a lot of difference amongst the staff the rest of the way. That continues with this game, and here is my reasoning for thinking this is a loss for the Gophers. Just as much as I believe Maryland has a lot of overhauling to do, Rutgers gives Chris Ash a lot more to work with given what he’d like to do on both sides of the football. While a trip from Jersey to Minnesota can be as taxing as the one Minnesota took the week before, Rutgers isn’t coming off a long trip…as they play the previous two games at home. That’s a massive advantage, and expect Minnesota to be caught off guard for one of the biggest head scratcher’s of the season.

at Illinois Fighting Illini
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Loss
Zach: Win

While we know the Gophers have a ton of potential, we really don’t know much about the Illini as we sit here in early June. Even if we did  know a lot, this has a bad matchup for the home Illini written all over it. Minnesota likes to pound the football, and Illinois has a lot of issues on the defensive side of the ball and are likely to be punched hard in the mouth. Look for the run game to be the difference, and that advantage goes to Minnesota in a blowout.

vs. Purdue Boilermakers
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

Poor Purdue fan, you’re likely to have given up by this point in the season and your coach is likely out the door too. Maybe that is a rallying cry for the Boilermakers in a matchup like this, but I just don’t see a win happening here. Don’t think the memory of a bad loss in West Lafayette will fade for the Gophers and look for a pounding of an opponent for the second week in a row.

at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Andy: Loss
Dave: Loss
Kevin: Loss
Zach: Loss

Finally back to a consensus with this Gophers team, unfortunately this is a trip that should scare Minnesota in 2016. One could say the question marks and strengths could be like looking in a mirror between the Huskers and Gophers, but the difference may come in who is playing host to whom…and that’s Nebraska. Advantage Huskers at Memorial Stadium.

vs. Northwestern Wildcats
Andy: Win
Dave: Loss
Kevin: Win
Zach: Loss

Our first 50/50 split on a game for the Gophers all season long. For me, this is a must-win game for the Gophers, because asking for a win in the Border Battle with Wisconsin to get bowl eligible is a frightening thought. Additionally, I think these teams are insanely close in terms of what they do well and need to show more of in the fall. Again, I’m taking the home team in a coin-flip type of game for this writer.

at Wisconsin Badgers
Andy: Loss
Dave: Loss
Kevin: Loss
Zach: Loss

ESPN named this the “must-win” game of the season for the Gophers, but like ex-WWE superstar Wade Barrett…”I’ve got some bad news…” for the Gophers. A decade-plus losing streak in the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe has this group desperate for a win, and it just isn’t happening in Camp Randall Stadium. Vince Biegel and the senior class are going to make damn sure of that. Look for Corey Clement to have a great day and Biegel to be a mainstay in the Gophers’ backfield. Sorry, just don’t see the streak ending on the road.

 

OUR PREDICTED 2016 BIG TEN STANDINGS: 

West:
1.
2.
3.
4. Minnesota (Andy)
5.
6.
7.

East:
1.
2. Michigan State (Andy/Dave)
3. Michigan State (Zach)
4.
5.
6.
7.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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