2016 Football Preview – Big Ten – Minnesota Golden Gophers
Looking for 2016 Minnesota Golden Gophers predictions? After a disastrous 2015 season that saw the unexpected mid-season retirement of beloved head coach Jerry Kill, the Minnesota Golden Gophers faded into the Big Ten abyss as the season progressed. Still, the Gophers won the Quick Lane Bowl over Central Michigan, and they’ll look to carry that momentum into 2016.
2016 Big Ten College Football Preview – Minnesota Golden Gophers
NCAA Division: Big Ten West
Head Coach: Tracy Claeys
2015 Record: 6-7
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With the mid-season departure of head coach Jerry Kill, the Minnesota Golden Gophers suffered a sub-.500 season and finished fifth in the Big Ten West.
2016 Minnesota Golden Gophers Predictions: Team Strengths
The Gophers aren’t exactly oozing with talent at the moment, but their greatest strength is that the Big Ten West is extremely wide open.
Iowa is unlikely to put up the season they had last year, and Nebraska always seems to disappoint when everybody thinks they’ll do well.
Another key strength is Minnesota’s schedule, which boasts three favorable matchups to start the season. The Gophers will host Oregon State, Indiana State and Colorado State, three teams who combined to finish with a record of 14-22 in 2015.
The Gophers also have the advantage of hosting Iowa and Northwestern, two of the strongest teams in the conference.
The Gophers also have a nice running back in Shannon Brooks, who finished with 6.0 yards per carry last season.
Minnesota will need him to show the flashes he displayed last season as he found the end zone seven times, only this year on a more consistent basis.
Minnesota also added linebacker Carter Coughlin, the state of Minnesota’s top-ranked player at any position.
After losing a good amount of defensive talent to the NFL, Coughlin’s presence on the field will be imperative as the Gophers look to compete with the other terrific defenses of the Big Ten.
2016 Minnesota Golden Gophers Predictions: Team Weaknesses
Minnesota has more weaknesses than it does strengths, and those weaknesses must be addressed if the Gophers want a shot at the Big Ten West.
The quarterback position immediately comes to mind as Mitch Leidner looked lost for parts of 2015. To be fair, Minnesota’s team in general was a disappointment, and Kill’s departure had plenty to do with that.
Even so, Leidner will be without wide receiver KJ Maye, so he must find a way to utilize the weapons he has. Though he wasn’t terrible last season, he threw nearly as many interceptions (11) as he did touchdowns (14).
Playing in the Big Ten means you must have a stout defense, and Minnesota did not possess one of those last year. The Gophers lost six of their last eight regular season games in 2o15 and allowed an average of nearly 30 points per game over that span.
They’ll need to improve on that as they’re forced to travel to Wisconsin and and Penn State this season.
The Gophers are sure to have a difficult time in the trenches this year on the offensive side of the ball. Minnesota had trouble with its offensive line last season as is now without eight of those guys for 2016.
The additions of junior college transfers Vince Calhoun and Garrison Wright will help, but the rest of the line remains a big ol’ question mark.
2016 Minnesota Golden Gophers Predictions:
(Minnesota Golden Gophers 6-6)
The Minnesota Golden Gophers have a favorable schedule they can really take advantage of, but I don’t think they’ll be able to compete with the best of the Big Ten West. It’s been more than a decade since the Gophers beat the hated Wisconsin Badgers, and I see that downward trend continuing this year.
Minnesota won’t beat Iowa or Penn State either, and their suspect offensive line makes me think they’ll struggle against a few inferior teams like Rutgers and Illinois.
I’m also not sold on Tracy Claeys being the guy in Minnesota, but we’ll see if he can rally the troops for a competitive season. The Gophers, led by the talented running back Brooks, will show signs of greatness this year, but I think the rest of the signs will show nothing more than mediocrity.
2016 Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Schedule
- 9/1/16 vs. Oregon State Beavers 9:00 PM/ET
- 9/10/16 vs. Indiana State Sycamores 4:00 PM/ET
- 9/24/16 vs. Colorado State Rams TBA
- 10/1/16 at Penn State Nittany Lions TBA
- 10/8/16 vs. Iowa Hawkeyes TBA
- 10/15/16 at Maryland Terrapins TBA
- 10/22/16 vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights 12:00 PM ET
- 10/29/16 at Illinois Fighting Illini 12:00 PM ET
- 11/5/16 vs. Purdue Boilermakers TBA
- 11/12/16 at Nebraska Cornhuskers 7:30 PM ET
- 11/19/16 vs. Northwestern Wildcats TBA
- 11/25/16 at Wisconsin Badgers TBA
What do you think about our 2016 Minnesota Golden Gophers predictions? Please leave us a comment below telling us how you think they’ll do in 2016!
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