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Minnesota Gophers Football Preview: Predicting the 2017 season

How do we see the 2017 Gophers season playing out? Check out our full game-by-game predictions.

We’ve come to the end of a full week of previewing the 2017 Minnesota Gophers and it is once again that time…time to put our money where our mouths are.

Yes, our staff of writers from across all talking10 sites come together and we go game-by-game with our predictions and thoughts.

Gophers Preview Week: Lessons from 2016 | State of the Offense | talking10 Podcast | Bold Predictions | State of the Defense | Impact Players | Recruits to Know

Each week you will also hear a different voice from the site giving you their explanations for their predictions and as we go on you will also see how we believe the standings of the Big Ten will shake out this season.

So, let’s not waste any more time and let’s get to the schedule and the predictions.

2017 Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time/TV Tickets
Thursday
Aug. 31
Bulls Buffalo Bulls
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Time TBA
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 9
Beavers at Oregon State Beavers
Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR
Time TBA
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 16
Blue Raiders Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Time TBA
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 23
OFF
Saturday
Sep. 30
Terrapins Maryland Terrapins
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Time TBA
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 7
Boilermakers at Purdue Boilermakers
Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN
Time TBA
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 14
Spartans Michigan State Spartans
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Time TBA
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 21
Fighting Illini Illinois Fighting Illini (HC)
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Time TBA
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 28
Hawkeyes at Iowa Hawkeyes
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
Time TBA
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 4
Wolverines at Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Time TBA
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 11
Cornhuskers Nebraska Cornhuskers
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Time TBA
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 18
Wildcats at Northwestern Wildcats
Ryan Field, Evanston, IL
Time TBA
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 25
Badgers Wisconsin Badgers
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Time TBA
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets

*schedule courtesy of FBschedules.com.

Now on to the real reason you are here…predictions, predictions and more predictions. Giving you a look at their thoughts on the schedule this week is our Publisher Andy Coppens.

 

Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold is used to winning national championships. He only won six D3 national titles in his eight years at Wisconsin-Whitewater. However, his first season at the helm of the Bulls was disastrous, winning just two games. Simply put, this was an easy call given the state of the Gophers and Bulls programs. Don’t be surprised if the Gophers put up at least 40-plus points and keep Buffalo below 17.

 

Common sense tells us to bet against any team from the Big Ten going out to Pac-12 territory. However, that usually applies to matchups of equals or relative equals on the field. Sorry, but I don’t consider Gary Andersen’s bunch out in Corvallis, Ore. as an equal to the Gophers. Andersen made strides in year two last season, but he’s got problems at quarterback (had to bring in a JUCO & last time that didn’t work out so well at Wisconsin), wide receiver and holes to fill on defense. Some would consider this game about equal, I don’t and I’m going with Minnesota to buck the trend of losses out West.

 

Middle Tennessee finished a respectable 8-5 overall last season, but the Blue Raiders were a team that couldn’t compete with the better competition on its schedule last year. Losses to Vanderbilt in non-conference play coupled with struggles against the best of Conference-USA lead me to believe Minnesota is, and should be, a heavy favorite in this game. Maybe Fleck’s squad plays down to the competition, but if I know one thing about P.J. Fleck-coached teams, it’s that they rarely play down to competition ever. Give me a home win in easy fashion in this one.

 

Some believe the Terps are on their way up after putting together an impressive ground game last season. Most of those parts are back, but this is one of the longest trips inside the Big Ten and that means advantage home team. In this case, that’s advantage Minnesota. Not only that, but I still don’t trust D.J. Durkin has enough on defense to slow down a powerful rushing attack even if he has one to match it.

 

One half of #Putgers is up on the schedule for the Gopher and it is a clean sweep for Minnesota by our staff. Personally, it is hard to see Jeff Brohm getting his offense to be dangerous enough to test a mid-table Big Ten defense. Being mid-table may be an under-estimation of the Minnesota defense as well. Look for Purdue to give the Gophers a scare early before bowing down to a run game they haven’t been able to stop in years.

 

Tim Beckman left a mess at Illinois and Lovie Smith is still cleaning things up after his first full off-season with the program. Minnesota’s off-field stuff is already over and the programs is rowing in the right direction. It will be homecoming in Minneapolis and these two programs aren’t on the same level. It isn’t hard to believe all of our staff picked the Gophers here, and I did so because of the gulf in talent between these two teams.

 

We simply have no clue how the Spartans will respond on the field to a 3-9 shocker last season. We equally have no clue as to what is going to happen off the field and how that is going to affect this team, largely due to an ongoing Title IX situation on campus and the ongoing sexual assault case against the same three players legally as well. With no names publicly disclosed, there’s little way to know what the Spartans will look like. However, I’m confident that last season’s 3-9 season is in the rear-view mirror and MSU will bounce back to being a challenger in the East division. Look for a settled quarterback situation to also equal a Spartans victory here.

 

After two big games at home, Minnesota will travel on the road to face Iowa in the battle for Floyd of Rosedale. Sorry to say, it appears our staff is in full agreement here — Iowa is going to win this game. While the Hawkeyes appear to have some questions in the pass game, much like Minnesota, it has one of the most electric runners in the league in Akrum Wadley and a pretty stout offensive and defensive line to work with. This game is in Iowa City, give me the Hawkeyes in a really close affair.

 

Rivalry game No. 2 in a row comes to us as the Gophers travel to Ann Arbor for the Little Brown Jug. It is a trophy game in which the Gophers have won just 25 times in 102 contests. Jim Harbaugh has just five starters returning, but the replacements are some of the better recruiting classes in the country over the last few years. While P.J. Fleck may be the answer for the Gophers, Harbaugh has this program winning on a different level. Expect the home team to continue the Little Brown Jug dominance, winning with a superior passing attack.

 

Make this rivalry game No. 3 in a row, and for the first time we have disagreement between the staff as to who will win this game. Minnesota and Nebraska have been an interesting matchup since the Huskers arrived in the Big Ten, with the Gophers winning two of the six matchups — both coming when they shouldn’t have, and during times of transition for the program.

Nebraska is undergoing that transition thing again on defense, and while I have a feeling Bob Diaco is going to get things going fast on defense, I expect the physicality and inventiveness of Fleck to give them troubles. Besides, something funky always seems to happen in this series and that means advantage Minnesota.

 

For me, the question is if you believe that Northwestern is Wisconsin’s true challenger for the top spot in the West division or not. I happen to believe that and that means a win for the Wildcats here. I love Justin Jackson, but somehow no one is talking about quarterback Clayton Thorson and the confident and dangerous dual-threat QB he became last season. Dare I say, Thorson may be the second-best dual threat quarterback in the Big Ten heading in to the season and has a real shot to be No. 1 if J.T. Barrett can’t get it straight as a pocket passer?

Look for more progression from Thorson here, while the Northwestern defense is up to the challenge at home as well. It all adds up to the Wildcats continuing to put pressure on the top of the division race.

 

No rivalry has given the Gophers bigger nightmares than that with Wisconsin. Let’s just say Paul Bunyan’s Axe seems permanently encased inside the Badgers football offices. A 13-year losing streak gets snapped if I’m correct. While the Badgers seem to have a season set up nicely to run the table and maybe get to the College Football Playoff, I also know one thing about the history of this program — UW always finds a way to ruin a really good thing. In this case, I’m betting that P.J. Fleck’s obsession over the Axe and Wisconsin’s place at the top of the board combine to give the Gophers a shocking win. Wisconsin can’t have the nicest of things, and Minnesota takes away a dream season with a fourth quarter comeback win.

 

SEASON RECORDS:

Andy: 8-4 overall (5-4 B1G)
Dave: 6-6 overall (4-5 B1G)
Phil: 5-7 overall (3-6 B1G)
Philip: 5-7 overall (4-5 B1G)
Rayan: 7-5 overall (4-5 B1G)
Zach: 7-5 overall (4-5 B1G)

OUR PREDICTED 2016 BIG TEN STANDINGS: 

West:
1.
2.
3. Minnesota (Andy)
4. Minnesota (Dave/Philip/Rayan/Zach)
5. Minnesota (Phil)
6.
7.

East:
1.
2.
3.
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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