Minnesota’s Big Ten Schedule, Part One

As the Gophers prepare for conference play, here's a look at Part One of Minnesota's Big Ten schedule and what their record should be.

There’s not much left to say about the way the Gophers dominated Colorado- and there is even less┬áto say about their upcoming game with Bowling Green. ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Minnesota a 97.8% chance of beating the 1-2 Falcons. So let’s skip ahead a week and take a look at part one of Minnesota’s Big Ten schedule (minus, of course, the week one game with Ohio State).

Minnesota’s Big Ten Schedule

October 2 at Purdue

ESPN is currently giving Purdue a 58.5% chance to win this game. The Boilermakers beat Oregon State 30-21 and woeful UConn 49-0. They lost to Notre Dame by two touchdowns. Their passing numbers are quite a bit better than the Gophers’, but Minnesota has a strong edge in the run game. Both are allowing just over 200 passing yards per game on defense, and both are much stingier against the run. Purdue’s run defense may well be the difference in this game, given Minnesota’s somewhat anemic passing attack; then again, the Boilermakers haven’t seen a runner like Treyson Potts yet this season.

Barring injuries to key players this weekend, this should be a close game and the result could go either way. At least this year the Gophers won’t be missing 22 players and multiple coaches due to COVID.

October 16 vs. Nebraska

Ah, the Cornhuskers. Stats are somewhat useless in predicting this game since Nebraska’s numbers are skewed by a 52-7 win over Fordham. One thing we know, since Adrian Martinez has been at Nebraska for what seems like a decade, is that Minnesota needs to keep him in the pocket. Martinez is currently the Huskers’ leading rusher and has four of the team’s 11 touchdowns on the ground. He’s also been sacked 11 times through four games.

Against Oklahoma, the Huskers allowed five-and-a-half yards per rush and took eight penalties for 70 yards. Those are both things the Gophers can take advantage of. We like their odds in this one.

October 23 vs. Maryland

I’m guessing we all remember how this game went last year. If nothing else, there is far more confidence in the Gophers’ special teams if the game comes down to that.

So far, the Terps have beaten West Virginia by six, and Illinois by three. Oh, and Howard by a score of 62-0. So, again, the stats are skewed. Opponents are averaging just 88 yards per game on the ground, but again, they haven’t tried to stop someone like Potts yet. The Terps are also, despite the shutout of Howard, allowing 180 yards passing per game. This would be a really good game for the Gophers to let Tanner Morgan air it out a little more than he has been.

ESPN gives Minnesota a 63% chance of victory. We concur.

October 30 @ Northwestern

The Wildcats are not off to a great start. They’ve lost to Michigan State (admittedly, that loss looks less bad after what Sparty did to Miami) and Duke. Their only win came against Indiana State. In terms of stats, Minnesota has the edge in everything except passing yards.

In their loss to Duke, Northwestern played three quarterbacks. Hunter Johnson started the game and was six of 16 for 75 yards and three interceptions. Andrew Marty had the most success (11 of 16, 151 yards, two touchdowns), replacing Johnson late in the first half, but he was injured in the fourth quarter and did not return. Ryan Hilinski finished the game, completing two of seven passes for 34 yards.

It’s always hard to make predictions about a game five weeks out; it’s almost impossible when you don’t know who will play quarterback and/or how healthy he is. Regardless, Minnesota should win the game.

In Summary

Part one of Minnesota’s Big Ten schedule is by far the easier part. Barring injuries, we’d be surprised to see them lose more than one of these match-ups; it would not be surprising to see them win all four.

Next week, we’ll look ahead to Part Two of Minnesota’s Big Ten Schedule.

 

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