Your 2022 Minnesota Gophers are BACK!
Football is back...GOLDEN GOPHER FOOTBALL IS BACK BABY! This is always such a fun time of year. Can you imagine being from England and having to get excited for soccer? Gross. Or WORSE... deciding to be a lifelong Wiscansin or Iowa fan?! Not me, not in a million years, not even if there's a fire. Go Gophers until the day I die! PJ Fleck has Minnesota winning consistently again for the first time in a long time and the buzz is growing in the Twin Cities. The Gophers are coming off an overall successful 2021 campaign finishing 9-4, and improving to 3-0 in Bowl games during the Fleck era. The season wasn't perfect by any means. We had a lead in the first game of the season last year against Ohio State heading into the 4th quarter until star RB Mohamed Ibrahim injured his achilles and was ruled out for the season. A couple weeks later, we lost our 2nd string RB Trey Potts to a season ending injury. The injuries kept mounting throughout the year which led to bad losses at home to Bowling Green and Illinois. The resiliency shown by this 2021 squad to still finish the season with 9 wins and a Bowl game victory were impressive, to say the least.
The Gophers offense will be returning a lot of key pieces including our Offensive Coordinator from 2019, QB Tanner Morgan, our 3 top RBs, our 4 top WRs, and even though we lost 3 key offensive lineman, we return the Nation's #1 rated Center as well as bringing in 2 Power 5 offensive lineman transfers (from Notre Dame and Michigan). The offense should see a significant boost compared to how it performed last season.
The Gophers Defense loses quite a few pieces to the NFL. Last season, the defense ended up performing as a top 5 defense in the Nation. Our Defensive Coordinator (Joe Rossi) is back, our second leading tackler at MLB is back, but we are going to need some pass rushers and our secondary to step their game up. I have no doubt that Joe Rossi will have the defense clicking on all cylinders again.
The first game of the season will be on Thursday, September 1st at Huntington Bank Stadium where the Gophers will host New Mexico State Aggies (I will be there!). The Aggies are coached by former Gopher Head Coach, Jerry Kill. Kill is in his first season with the Aggies and looking to turn around a program that has not seen very much success as of late. Currently, the Gophers are 36.5 point favorites and should assert their dominance early and often. Winning by more than 5 touchdowns is not an easy task and the Gophers haven't exactly dominated their "easy" non conference opponents since Fleck was named the head coach. I really hope that mindset has changed and the Gophers can win this one going away. My prediction for this game is Minnesota will win 38-6. They will likely be running the ball most of the game, but hopefully they can let Morgan and the WRs get on track with the passing game to start the season on a high note and a confidence boost.
Season prediction - here is how I see the B1G West final standings playing out:
7) Nebraska (This team is horrible.)