Minnesota Striving for Bowl in Kill’s Season 2

The Golden Gophers will be entering the second year with Jerry Kill at the helm.  With MarQueis Gray's athleticism and a full year under the new system, he is the type of mobile quarterback that can give a defense fits.  They have a good chance to sweep the non-conference slate and steal a couple of Big Ten games, which would make them a bowl-eligible team.  They have little positivity surrounding their program right now because of the lack of senior leadershipdepth, and experience being fielded this season.  However, as my esteemed colleague Steve pointed out, Minnesota has the markings of a trap game.  The Huskers will be coming off some hard fought weeks and the Gophers may be looking to gain their bowl eligibility late in the season.  Bo needs to avoid the home loss to an opponent picked as a consensus bottom dweller of the conference this season.

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Minnesota had a couple B1G wins last season over Iowa and Illinois. This season I think they only have 8 games that they have a legitimate shot at winning. UNLV, New Hampshire, Western Michigan, Syracuse, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois. Their other 4 games are Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan State and Michigan. They will be heavy underdogs in all of those games.

Out of the 8 “winnable” games I can really only see them winning 5 of them. Syracuse is the big question mark in the non-con schedule. They started strong last year but failed miserably during conference play. Even with that being the case 3-1 is a safe bet for Minnesota to start the season. That leaves 4 “winnable” conference games to collect bowl eligibility. The problem is, I don’t see them winning any of these games unless somehow they got remarkably better. MarQueis Gray has to have a great year in order for them to make the post-season. If they can shut down Vandenberg then they might have a shot to beat Iowa. I think Northwestern will be solid this year. 7-5, maybe even 8-4 in the regular season so I don’t see the Gophers winning this one. I don’t know a whole lot about Purdue but that seems like the other game that Minnesota might be able to pull off (Based on nothing other than my gut feeling). I also think Illinois will be very good this year with Scheelhaase at the helm for a third season making them hard to beat as well.

If they manage to go 2-2 in these four matchups that leaves one of the “unwinnable” games as a must-have upset for the Gophers.  If I had to pick one, I would say Michigan State for no other reason than I think they are going to be the weakest of the 4.

Barring a Michigan/South Carolina type melt-down, Minnesota doesn’t have the fire power to hang with Nebraska. Here’s to hoping it’s not the Huskers who make the Gophers bowl eligible.

Pulling for Coach Kill.  Liked him before he got to Minneapolis and hope he can turn things around at Minnesota. . .

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