Minnesota finished 9-4 a season ago but that didn’t stop P.J. Fleck from shaking up the staff. Kirk Ciarrocca is back second stint as the offensive coordinator, the post he held during Minnesota’s 11-2 season in 2019 when they averaged 34.1 points per game.
Tanner Morgan returns for his fourth season as the starter but will need to regain his 2019 form after two down seasons. The offense mustered only 25.5 points per game a year ago but suffered several injuries in the running back room, where they anticipate a return from an Achilles injury for star rusher Mohamed Ibrahim. The Gophers – with a win total of 7.5 in college football betting – have hopes of surprising in the Big Ten this year, and they aren’t far off.
Here’s a look at Minnesota’s schedule with dates, times, opponents, and analysis:
Week 1 – vs. New Mexico State Aggies
Date: September 1
Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
The Aggies are one of the worst teams in the FBS. The Gophers won this matchup 48-10 a year ago and have won four of their last six openers.
Week 2 – vs. Western Illinois Leathernecks
Date: September 10
Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
The Leathernecks finished just 2-9 a year ago and don’t figure to put up too much of a fight. Minnesota will need to take care of business after losing to lowly Bowling Green in non-conference play a year ago.
Week 3 – vs. Colorado Buffaloes
Date: September 17
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Minnesota has won four straight against the Pac-12, including their domination of Colorado last season. The Buffaloes, led by likely college football hot seat coach Karl Dorrell, figure to be near the bottom of their conference this season and managed only 63 total yards and zero points in this matchup a year ago.
Week 4 – at Michigan State Spartans
Date: September 24
The first road game of the season comes against a Spartans team coming off a magical 11-2 season. The Spartans have won seven of the last 13 meetings.
Week 5 – vs. Purdue Boilermakers
Date: October 1
Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Minnesota has Purdue’s number, winning eight of the last nine meetings between the B1G West foes. The Boilermakers return 15 starters led by quarterback Aidan O’Connell.
Week 6 – BYE
Week 7 – at Illinois Fighting Illini
Date: October 15
Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Another matchup that Minnesota has had success in recently, winning eight of the last 11 meetings. Second-year coach Bret Bielema has the Illini improving and led a win last year in Minneapolis.
Week 8 – at Penn State Nittany Lions
Date: October 22
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
The Gophers have lost three straight in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions lose Jahan Dotson, but the staff believes they have improved on both sides of the ball this offseason. Arguably the most challenging game on Minnesota’s schedule.
Week 9 – vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Date: October 29
The Gophers return home after back-to-back road games to face a second straight B1G East opponent. These teams last met in 2019 when Minnesota won 42-7.
Week 10 – at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Date: November 5
The Gophers have won six of the last nine meetings against the Cornhuskers. Nebraska ranks 104th in returning production but hopes to have an improved offense under new coordinator Mark Whipple.
Week 11 – vs. Northwestern Wildcats
Date: November 12
Minnesota has won five of the last eight meetings against Northwestern but needs to be wary. This is a potential sandwich spot with a road trip to Nebraska the week before and a pivotal home matchup with Iowa on deck.
Week 12 – vs. Iowa Hawkeyes
Date: November 19
The Hawkeyes have won seven of the last ten meetings, but Minnesota has won each of the previous two. If the season plays out the way both teams hope, this could be a meaningful game for the Big Ten standings.
Week 13 – at Wisconsin Badgers
Date: November 26
The second of a brutal two-game stretch to end the season, as the Gophers end with the top two programs in the division. These teams have split the last four meetings, and this is another game that could decide the Big Ten West.
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