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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.

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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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Annexstad shows promise in Gophers debut

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Plenty of people were curious about the Minnesota Gophers starting quarterback coming in to the season opener. After all, it’s not often that a true freshman walk-on gets the starting nod. 

But, the attention and pressure of the first college game was not too much to handle for Gophers quarterback Zack Annextad. After a few shaky moments early on, Annexstad looked like he belonged on the field in the Gophers 48-10 victory over New Mexico State. 

Annexstad wasn’t super accurate, completing just 48 percent of his passes. But, he more than made up for it with a blistering 220 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, he kept the Aggies from picking him off all game long. 

Perhaps the best bit of news is that it appears the Gophers may have more than one good target for Annexstad to work with. Veteran wide receiver Tyler Johnson was on point, catching five passes for 100 yards and both of the touchdown throws.

Rashod Bateman caught five passes and Chris Autman-Bell had four to his name as well. 

Meanwhile, sophomore wide receiver Seth Green looked dangerous as an all-around player. He touched the ball in the backfield twice and scored on both of those touches, giving future opponents plenty to think about when it comes to game-planning for the Gophers.

Minnesota also showed off an impressive run game after a rocky start on the ground. Star running back Rodney Smith racked up 153 yards and the Gophers ran for 295 yards and three touchdowns as a team. 

Add in a defense that allowed just 38 yards on the ground and only 10 points and there is a recipe for success going forward. 

Of course, one has to take in to consideration the caliber of opponent, but for a team with a lot of question marks on offense, there’s little doubt this was a confidence builder. 

While there will be plenty of improvement needed in order for Minnesota to be competitive come Big Ten play, this offense looks and feels different than it did a year ago. 

As far as debuts go, there certainly was promise shown from Annexstad and that’s really all you can ask for from a freshman making his first start. 

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Gophers, Huskers could have games altered by Oregon wildfires

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Mother Nature could wreak havoc on college football this upcoming weekend, but the majority of the news has been focused on an impending hurricane barring down on Florida.

A look out West and things are just as dangerous and deadly, as wildfires are raging in California, Oregon and Washington. That could present a big problem for the Minnesota Gophers game on Saturday night with the Oregon State Beavers and Nebraska’s visit to the Oregon Ducks.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune cites sources within the Pac-12 saying that the game time may be moved or the game moved all together.

While the fire isn’t the problem, it is the air quality in the Eugene area that is. Oregon has already had to move practice closer to the Pacific Coast and the air in Eugene appears to be a major issue.

The smoke in Eugene, where an air protection agency listed the air quality as “hazardous,” prompted Oregon to move its Tuesday practice to Florence, near the Pacific coast.

The good news is that the smoke cleared enough a day later for the Ducks to return to practice in Eugene. But, there is reason to believe the game could still be an issue as smoke is expected to return.

The smoke is supposed to return at some point. But we just don’t know when. … There are too many variables for us to look that far ahead of time.”

Yes, that means we won’t know about the status of Nebraska-Oregon until Saturday itself.

Meanwhile, things don’t look as precarious for the Gophers matchup, but that doesn’t mean change would be out of the question.

“Based upon the information provided by the air protection agency and the expert health and safety advice of the respective University medical professionals, a decision will be made on whether or not to adjust game times and/or dates with the safety of student-athletes and fans as a priority,” Andrew Walker, the Pac-12’s vice president of public affairs, wrote in an e-mail to the (Portland) Oregonian.

Once again, it appears things are going to be in a wait-and-see mode in Corvallis as well.

It hasn’t affected Minnesota all that much, as they are more worried about playing at game that would kick at 9pm in Minneapolis if it were being played at home.

Head coach P.J. Fleck has talked this week about making sure players are staying up later as the week goes on to adjust their bodies. That’s especially important as practices are taking place first thing in the morning this season.

Either way, both of these programs are dealing with a lot of uncertainty right now and that may be the biggest hurdle to get over when prepping for Week 2.

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talking10 Power Poll: Surprises galore in Week 1 poll

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We’re back…after a long offseason, the staff is finally back to watching football, crunching numbers and giving you our opinions on all things Big Ten football.

It also means our weekly staff Power Poll is back as well.

This season we’ve got five staff members voting every week. That includes the following names:

Andy Coppens@AndyOnFootball

Phil Harrison@PhilHarrisonCFB

Philip Rossmann-Reich – @RiseNU

Dave Fitzgerald@BuckeyeFitzy

Zach Worthington@Worthyton

Normally the opening week of the season provides little in the way of knowledge, but that certainly wasn’t the case in 2017. Dare we say the first week of action for the Big Ten was highly entertaining?

You can say that, and we did over at the #B1GRewind Show.

But, how did all of that excitement shake out when it came time to vote? Let’s take a look at the official poll for Week 1:

Let’s just say things were a bit wackier than usual, huh?

Takeaways:

  • Only three teams lost this week, yet it was a winner, Illinois, coming up dead last and it wasn’t even close. The Illini’s unimpressive three-point win was also our winner for “Disappointment of the Week” on the #B1GRewind show…so perhaps their last place finish in the power poll this week was really warranted. It also appears that hanging tough with ranked teams meant a lot to our voters.
  • While the rest of the college football world is in love with Ohio State…our staff is much more in love with the Nittany Lions…well not “much more” but they won out with three first place votes and OSU falling outside the top two in one voters mind.
  • It appears there is going to be an interesting battle for the middle of the pack over the next few weeks. Michigan State was No. 7 in this poll, but had just a three-point lead on No. 10 Nebraska. Let’s just say the next few weeks should shake out the middle a bit more.
  • Speaking of close fights…the battle between Michigan and Wisconsin for the third spot should be an interesting one indeed. Can Wisconsin’s offense keep up the high-scoring and keep UW ahead or will Michigan’s exciting youth movement grow up fast enough to challenge for the top of the East division and thus our poll as well?
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talking10 Pick’Em league has arrived!

Join our staff in a season-long Big Ten predictions challenge! Come on…you know you want to know our picks and beat up on us for bad plays!

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We’ve had fun on the talking10 podcast giving you previews and predictions over the last few seasons. This year we’re turning that up a notch around here.

Yes, you can now play along with us each and every week! Welcome to the talking10 Pick’Em league brought you by Yahoo! Sports.

Each week you’ll hear us make our picks on Wednesday night and filling out our sheets live on the Podcast. You can play alongside all of our staff and shame us as you win or we get to laugh at you as we rise to the top.

This Pick’Em league is free of charge and is for more than just bragging rights. The winner at the end of the season gets a special prize package from us here at talking10. So join up with the following information:

League ID: 3991

Password: Delany17

Finally, please make sure to make your team name your Twitter handle or your first & last name so we have a way to reach out to you once the season is over….if you win!

We dare you to beat us! We double dog dare you!

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