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Minnesota Gophers Football Preview: Predicting the 2015 season

As we wrap up our look at the 2015 Minnesota Gophers, it’s time to do our annual duty and bring you a look at the 2015 season ahead and stick our necks out to predict how the season will go.

Following a 2014 season full of surprises and a near Big Ten West division title to boot, will Jerry Kill’s 2015 team be able to build on that success or will it take a step back?

Other Big Ten Predictions:
WestIowa | Northwestern
EastMichigan | Rutgers

Let’s get to the predicting!

2015 Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time/TV Tickets
Thursday
Sept. 3
Horned Frogs TCU Horned Frogs
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
8:00 p.m. CT
ESPN
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 12
Rams at Colorado State Rams
Hughes Stadium, Fort Collins, CO
2:30 p.m. CT
CBSSN
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 19
Golden Flashes Kent State Golden Flashes
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
11:00 a.m. CT
BTN/BTN2Go
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 26
Bobcats Ohio Bobcats (HC)
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
2:30 p.m. CT
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 3
Wildcats at Northwestern Wildcats
Ryan Field, Evanston, IL
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 10
Boilermakers at Purdue Boilermakers
Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 17
Cornhuskers Nebraska Cornhuskers
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 24
Open Date
Saturday
Oct. 31
Wolverines Michigan Wolverines
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
7:00 p.m. CT
ABC/ESPN/2
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 7
Buckeyes at Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
6 or 7 p.m. CT
ABC/ESPN/2
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 14
Hawkeyes at Iowa Hawkeyes
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
7:00 p.m. CTBTN/BTN2Go Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 21
Fighting Illini Illinois Fighting Illini
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 28
Badgers Wisconsin Badgers
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Dec. 5
Big Ten Big Ten Championship Game
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
7:00 p.m. CT
FOX
Buy
Tickets

 

Here’s how we see the 2015 season play out (both Andy and Dave are predicting each week):

vs. TCU:
Andy — L
Dave — L

TCU comes in to the 2015 season as one of the top preseason contenders for a College Football Playoff spot, and last season’s matchup in Fort Worth, Texas may have been the worst game Minnesota played all season long. Not much has changed with these two teams other than a few key pieces, but I expect the Gophers to show they are closer to winning than last season. It’s just hard to see them winning against a national title contender.

at Colorado State:
Andy — W
Dave — W

If there is a team poised for a downward trend in 2015 it is Colorado State. While the Rams aren’t going to be a super easy contest, don’t expect CSU to be as challenging as this game would’ve been last season. No Garrett Grayson at QB for the Rams is key to this decision. Personally, this game could be a blowout in favor of the Gophers if my thoughts on this CSU program are correct in 2015.

vs. Kent State:
Andy — W
Dave — W

Really? Really…like anything but a win over the MAC was going to be predicted here. Under Jerry Kill, the Gophers have not lost to a MAC school, while the program as a whole has just four losses to conference teams in their history. Kent State won just one game in MAC play and were 2-9 overall (with the game against Buffalo canceled). Can you say blowout?

vs. Ohio:
Andy — W
Dave — W

While Kent State won’t be a challenge out of the MAC, Ohio can and should be just that. The Bobcats have built a solid program under Frank Solich. However, this was a .500 team last season in both overall and MAC play. This shouldn’t be too difficult for the Gophers, but don’t be surprised to see Ohio step up and challenge Minnesota early on.

at Northwestern:
Andy — W
Dave — W

Until Northwestern proves it has something resembling a scary total offense, this matchup favors the Gophers in a big way. Yes, a trip to Evanston isn’t exactly a picnic for most teams, but the Gophers don’t seem intimidated by Ryan Field. Minnesota’s defense is too good to let the Wildcats run lose and the Gophers continue a nice win streak following a loss in the opener to TCU.

at Purdue:
Andy — W
Dave — W

Could this be the end of the Darrell Hazell era at Purdue? Yes, it’s early in the 2015 season but it could also be the tipping point as well. Look for the Gophers defense to once again overpower the opponent and Minnesota’s overall smash-mouth style wearing down the Boilermakers defense. Last season’s matchup was a complete barn burner, with the Gophers winning 39-38, I just don’t see that kind of matchup happening this time around — especially with Purdue’s running game in flux.

vs. Nebraska:
Andy — W
Dave — L

This is my swing game. If the Gophers want to continue to win eight-plus games this a must win, and last season they got the job done on the road. Can they do it at home against a team not coached by Bo Pelini? That is the big factor in this matchup for me, but I still see Minnesota being able to compete. With top player David Santos gone from Nebraska’s defense things don’t look so scary anymore. Look for another close game, but the home team gets the job done.

vs. Michigan:
Andy — L
Dave — W

It was nice for the Gopher fanbase to see the team hoist the Little Brown Jug for once. However, the Wolverines aren’t going to take this game lightly and history suggests no matter how good or bad these teams are, Michigan doesn’t allow the Jug to stay in Minnesota’s possession for very long. The Gophers haven’t held the Jug for longer than one season since the early 1960’s where it won three in a row. Expect things to go back to normal, as Harbaugh’s crew starts to get things going in the right direction by this point of the season.

at Ohio State:
Andy — L
Dave — L

Man was last season’s game incredible. OSU thought they had it in the bad, only to see a furious comeback attempt be snuffed out in the final two minutes. That’s not going to happen this season, especially with this game being in Columbus. It would easy to say that Minnesota doesn’t have a chance, and that’s exactly what I’m saying. Urban Meyer isn’t going to let his team forget what almost happened last year. OSU rolls big in this one.

at Iowa:
Andy — W
Dave — L

Always a bitter swing game in both teams’ season, Floyd of Rosedale has swung the way of the Gophers twice in the Kill era. What hasn’t happened is Kill’s team winning it on the road, a feat that hasn’t happened for Minnesota since 1999 actually. This season that all changes in a big way, as the Gophers take some frustration out on Iowa. There’s just nothing about this Iowa team that shows me they are better nearly anywhere on the field (on paper) right now.

vs. Illinois:
Andy — W
Dave — W

Tim Beckman could be gone or packing up his office in anticipation of being gone by this point of the season. His Illini could also be fighting for a bowl game appearance again too. Either way, Minnesota looks to keep pressure on other top teams by winning this game. I just happen to think the smash-mouth and physical play of the Gophers wins this one.

vs. Wisconsin:
Andy — L
Dave — L

At some point Paul Bunyan’s Axe will reside in the trophy case of the Gophers, but it won’t be after the 2015 meeting. While I like the Gophers’ progress, both in general and in this bitter feud, I just don’t like it enough to predict a win over Wisconsin just yet. Corey Clement is a game-changing back that makes this game very difficult for Minnesota to win. Wisconsin’s defense is also going to be really good, and that combination gives UW a 12-year winning streak in this series.

 

Minnesota’s 2015 Final Record/Big Ten Finish

Andy: 8-4 (5-3) — 2nd in West
Dave: 7-5 (4-4) — Tied for 3rd in West

Our Predicted 2015 Big Ten Standings: 

West:
1.
2. Minnesota Gophers (Andy)
3. Iowa Hawkeyes (Dave)/
4. Iowa Hawkeyes (Andy)/ Minnesota Gophers (Dave)
5.
6. Northwestern (Andy/Dave)
7.

East:

1.
2.
3.
4. Michigan Wolverines (Andy/Dave)
5.
6.
7. Rutgers (Andy/Dave)

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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