The TDG Consensus Schedule Predictions

You may recall last year's predictions on the Gopher schedule. Well it is time for the 2010 consensus and we've included the new guys. Game-by-game here are our thoughts, wisdom and predictions...

The Schedule

Middle_tennessee_1_medium Thurs, Sept 2nd

GN - I understand that the national, main stream media is down on the Gophers. And apparently Vegas is down on the Gophers too as the Blue Raiders are 4 point favorites!

This is where the rubber will meet the road with the Gophers desire to dominate the line of scrimmage and this year truly pound the rock. Middle Tennessee State was 10-3 last year and they return a lot of starters (especially on offense), but they are also a Sun Belt team and they should not be able to match the Gopher's size and strength (I hope). Gophers win by 10.

BB - The season opener with Middle Tennessee State could be the most important game of the season. Last year the Blue Raiders had a 10-3 record, but didn't face very many quality opponents. Here's what I wrote about this matchup prior to the Dwight Dasher suspension:

From footage I've seen and from what I've read, Middle Tennessee State has a talented quarterback in Dwight Dasher who can make plays with both his arm and his legs. Stop Dwight Dasher, and the Gophers will probably stop the Blue Raiders.

The Gophers bring into their first contest a newly modified offensive scheme, an offensive squad that must adapt to the loss of Eric Decker, and several new starters on defense. I predict that this game will be the litmus test for the entire season. Win big, and the Gophers should have a 7-5 or better season. Win or lose a close game, expect a record between 4-6 and 6-6. Lose big, and things could get very ugly as the year progresses.

If Horton's offense significantly outperforms last season's squad, and the new defensive starters step in and continue last season's strong defensive play, then Minnesota could surprise people this year. Both of those factors are unknowns until the team takes the field.

I predict some strong drives with at least three major mistakes caused by a combination of inexperience with the new offensive scheme and youth on the defense. Yet, Minnesota should definitely pull this one out with Dasher suspended. Minnesota 34 - MTSU 17. Gophers' record 1-0.

JG - did not have time to contribute

JK - Clearly I like the Gophers chances in this one much better now that MTSU QB Dwight Dasher is out. I will maintain that even with Dasher, the Gophers should not lose to the Blue Raiders and should never lose to a Sun Belt school. It just shouldn't happen, and I'm predicting this time around it won't. Minnesota 27 - MTSU 10.

JD - Wait, the national media is down on the Gophers? Dasher isn't going to be playing for MTSU? The MTSU mascot is the Red Raiders? Where have I been? Gophers win 31 - 20.

South_dakota_medium
Sat, Sept 11th

GN - The 2010 home opener is against a good USD team but once again, this is an FCS team and if the Gophers want to dispel the notion that they are a bottom of the Big Ten team, they have to win this one. The projected 4th place team in the Great West Conference should not be able to beat any Big Ten team on the road. If the Gophers don't adequately prepare for the Coyotes then things could get dicey but this will be a 17 point win.

BB - South Dakota will undoubtedly be prepared for this game, as a win against a Big Ten team would probably be the highlight of their season. I'm interested to see how the Coyotes' starting safety, Gopher transfer Shane Potter, fares against the Gopher passing attack.

If the Gophers lose this game, the season would pretty much be a wash. It won't happen. Minnesota 35 - South Dakota 17. Gophers' record 2-0.

JG - did not have time to contribute

JK - Should be a piece of cake, as the Gophs have never had trouble with 1-AA schools from the Dakotas...oh that's right, they have nothing but trouble with 1-AA schools from the Dakotas. It may not be pretty, as the Gophs will still be breaking in 9 new defensive starters and adjusting to a new OC, but Minnesota will win this one by a couple of touchdowns. At least they better. Minnesota 38 - USD 13.

JD - Remember last season when the Gophers played Syracuse and all anybody could talk about was Greg Paulus and how he had formerly played D1 basketball for Duke? That was too much for me. It's all anyone could talk about. It was ridiculous and I was glad that we won that game and didn't have to face the former Duke basketball player. He played for Coach K, you know. The Gophers will beat South Dakota by at least two touchdowns.

Usc_medium Sat, Sept 18th

GN - It should be fun to have a program like USC come to town. This game doesn't do much for our final record but as long as this game is relatively competitive it should be a treat for those with a ticket. USC just has too much talent to predict a Gopher win here. Maybe they don't take us seriously, maybe the jet lag gets to them, maybe the Gophers play great, maybe it snows on Sep 18th and maybe Tim Brewster gets that signature win we'd all love to see him get. While stranger things have happened, it is highly unlikely. Gophers lose by 17.

BB - If a win were to happen in this game, the Gophers would probably be 3-0, headed towards an 8-4 or better season, and Brewster's future would be secure with a signature win in his portfolio. Unfortunately, I'd place the likelihood of Minnesota winning this game at about 10%. USC, despite the sanctions, is loaded with the best talent around. Lane Kiffin, despite his professional wrestling antics, is a good coach and has an experienced staff working under him.

A good showing would be for Minnesota to keep this game close until the second half or even the fourth quarter. Minnesota is too young, lacks the depth that USC has, and will wear down as the game progresses. USC 42 - Minnesota 10. Gophers' record 2-1.

JG - did not have time to contribute

JK - Seems quite a few people are down on USC right now. Yes, they're facing some tough sanctions and won't be bowl eligible, and yes, Lane Kiffin is not Pete Carroll. But last I checked the Trojans are still chalk full of the four and five star recruits, they return 13 starters, and will be playing with a serious chip on their shoulder. I see SC losing two regular season games at most this year, and one of them certainly won't be to Minnesota. If the Gophs stay within 2 TD's of the Trojans I'll be impressed. USC 42 - Minnesota 21.

JD - I'll say this for Lane Kiffin... he ain't boring. I feel bad for his dad. I mean, Monte Kiffin has made a living as one of the top defensive minds in all of football and has always let his coaching do the talking for him. Suddenly here comes his son who hasn't really proven much of anything as a coach, and he can't keep his mouth shut. I'm embarrassed to say this, but there was a time when I wanted Kiffin to head up the Gophers. Of course, my wife will also tell you that I once at dehydrated mashed potatoes that were 18 months past their "best if used by" date, so that should tell you something about my decision making. Anyway, USC wins by 17.

Northern_illinois_medium Sat, Sept 25th

GN - This game actually scares me more than the MTSU or USD games. NIU is picked to win the MAC and they return a lot of good football players. The Huskies have an interesting QB controversy. You may remember Chandler Harnish as the freshman who in his first collegiate start threw for 326 yards and 2 TDs against the Gophers. Even after starting for two years he may lose his job. By this point we should know who our opposing QB will be. NIU is the favorite in the MAC and will be no pushover in week four. They have a big offensive line and they return 1,000 yard rusher Chadd Spann. This game could be a real battle in the trenches but I'm going with my team this week. Gophers win by 6.

BB - This game could be the "fork-in-the-road" for the season. Minnesota will probably be coming off of a beating from USC, and may not be at 100% against a tough NIU team. A MAC team, tough? Absolutely. NIU will have an experienced squad that is used to playing together. Last year they only lost to Wisconsin by 8 points, they beat Purdue, and this year they are expected to win the MAC.

NIU's strongest weapon in their offense is running back Chad Spann, who averaged 5.8 yards per carry with 19 touchdowns last season. Along with Me'co Brown who tallied 150 tards on the ground versus Purdue, NIU has a formidable running game. Minnesota's strength last year, and Cosgrove's greatest strength as a defensive coordinator, is stopping the run. Due to the USC hangover effect, Minnesota wins a close one. Minnesota 28 - Northern Illinois 24. Gophers record 3-1.

JG - did not have time to contribute

JK - The Huskies are a top 50 team this year, so this one won't be easy. But Minnesota should be 2-1, have things figured out (or close to it) on both sides of the ball, and, well, if you want to be a team good enough to go bowling, you HAVE to beat non-BCS schools in your own building. Get it done Gophs! Minnesota 24 - NIU 20.

JD - Does anyone in major college football schedule more MAC teams than Joel Maturi? The answer is no. Gophers win by 13.

Northwestern_medium Sat, Oct 2nd

GN -Can the Gophers start out 4-1 and have some momentum heading into the heart of the Big Ten schedule? In the words of Bob the Builder...Yes We Can! NU is a good team that finished their 2009 very strong and very nearly beat Auburn in the Outback Bowl. This team is replacing Mike Kafka and it being the first Big Ten road game for Dan Persa I think the Gophers will prevail here. NU is good but let's not forget that we did beat them a year ago in spite of our Mulligan Offense. Gophers win by 3.

BB - Northwestern is always a tough opponent. PAt Fitzgerald may "do more with less" than any other coach in the Big Ten. The team flat out plays smart football. Northwestern will feature a new quarterback, a new starting running back, and a young offensive line without a single senior. I'll predict that they score 17-24 points against the Gopher defense.

The key to this game for Minnesota will be their offensive performance against a strong, experienced Northwestern defense. If they can score in the high 20s, they'll probably win. Less than 20, they'll probably lose. I blame Jedd Fisch for the wretched 2009 offense, and I think with Horton's new schemes they'll clear 20 points against Northwestern. Minnesota 28 - Northwestern 21. Gophers record 4-1.

JG - did not have time to contribute

JK - Pat Fitzgerald is the coaching equivalent of some kind of mixture of Jesus and General Patton, but I still can't take Northwestern seriously as a team we can't beat. The Wildcats aren't an 8 win team this year...ok with that Glen Mason-esque non-conference schedule, and a Big Ten slate that includes Indiana, Illinois, AND Iowa (I take so much joy in pointing out the Wildcats have won four of the past five against the hated Hawkeyes) maybe they still are, but Minnesota is winning this game. Minnesota 23 - NW 20.

JD - I was in Bismarck, ND on September 26, 2009 watching the Gophers beat Northwestern at Buffalo Wild Wings. I had boneless wings and two tall beers (just a couple of hours before I was to read scripture at my nieces wedding). My wife was there too, she had the garden burger... I made fun of her. It's a nice Buffalo Wild Wings in Bismarck. If you're ever in the area you should check it out. Gophers win by a field goal.

Wisconsin_1_medium Sat, Oct 9th

GN - And this is where things will either start to get ugly or the Gophers turn some heads. I'd love to predict a Gopher win here but I'm not willing to call it. The Badgers are my pick as the #2 Big Ten team and the one with the best chance to knock off OSU. They are solid and playing at home. I think we put up a fight and there is a very good chance they are looking ahead to Ohio State but I can't call a win and maintain any level of respectability around here. Gophers lose by 12.

BB - Here's where things get rough. Minnesota will be facing a tough, experienced Wisconsin defense. The offense features John Clay behind a gigantic offensive line, an skilled senior quarterback in Scott Tolzien, and a corp of wide receivers featuring 6'4 Nick Toon. As much as I'd like to see Minnesota win this one, it won't happen at Camp Randall. Wisconsin 24 - Minnesota 21. Gophers' record 4-2.

JG - did not have time to contribute

JK - Don't tell the folks in Columbus and Iowa City, but I think the Badgers will be the best team in the Big Ten. I have nightmares of John Clay and that monster Sconnie offensive line running over our defense. Or those could just be memories from last year. Either way Wisconsin is not losing at home, at least not to us. Last time Minnesota beat the Badgers in Madtown? 1994. Wisconsin 41 - Minnesota 27.

JD - Camp Randall is a fine place to see a football game. I once took a fan bus with some fellow Gopher fans from a bar in Waukesha, WI, where a friend of mine lived, to see the Gophers play in Madison. We were the youngest people on the bus by at least 10 years, and we were the only Gopher fans. The Badger fans were enjoyable. Many barley-pops were consumed. My friend Dan was hitting on 50 year old women. I think that's the same weekend where I "rode" a statue of a cannon in some park in Waukesha. All in all a pretty epic weekend. Gophers lose by a TD.

Purdue_1_medium Sat, Oct 16th

GN -Truth be told, I'm not sold on Purdue this year. They surpassed expectations last year and had the monster upset of OSU at home. In a lot of ways I think they are the 2009 version of our 2010 Gophers. A year ago Purdue was a consensus bottom 2 team in the conference but they were better than the prognosticators prognosticated. The Gophers will also surpass expectations and notch one big upset. But I think we can beat Purdue on the road. Gophers win in OT.

BB - Last year, Purdue was wildly inconsistent. They upset Ohio State, won at Michigan, and were within 2 points of Oregon, but lost by 37 points to Wisconsin and 15 points to Minnesota. At this point in the season, I have as good of a shot at predicting the outcome of this game as I do the weather for it. If Minnesota's paper-thin secondary is beat up at this point, Purdue could win a big game and send the Gophers into another season-ending downward spiral. If Horton's offense is clicking and the Minnesota defense is healthy, Minnesota could win by two touchdowns.

Despite Purdue's home field advantage, I think that an improved Minnesota offense will make the difference for this game. Minnesota 28 - Purdue 24. Gopher's record 5-2.

JG - did not have time to contribute

JK - I like coach Danny Hope and believe QB Robert Marve and the offense will pile up some points, but like last year, I'm not convinced they'll be able to stop any people. Even our offense. Gophers sneak one out in West Lafayette. Minnesota 31 - Purdue 24.

JD - Joe Tiller's mustache didn't get nearly enough play, but I think I speak for all of Big Ten country when I say thank you to Purdue for replacing Tiller's mustache with an equally handsome manstache. Neither of those mustaches can touch Carl Pavano's mario-stache with a 10-foot pole, but you know, a good mustache deserves a mention. Gophers win by 6.

Penn_state_medium Sat, Oct 23rd

GN - Penn State is vulnerable this year but not that vulnerable. If Michigan plays well this season then maybe we catch them in a trap game as PSU has the Wolverines the following week. This game may actually be close as this isn't the same Penn State team we have seen in the last couple years. But they are still better than we are. Penn State wins by 14.

BB - Early in the season, Minnesota might have had a chance to upset Penn State if they were to have a down week. By game seven, Minnesota's lack of depth on the offensive line and the defensive backfield will probably be an issue. It's at home, so Minnesota could keep it respectable. Penn State 35 - Minnesota 24. Gophers' record 5-3.

JG - did not have time to contribute

JK - Can you say Trap Game? The Nittany Lions will be coming off a Scott Pilgrim vs the World-style beatdown of Illinois, and as much as the coaches will tell them not to, they will absolutely, positively be looking ahead to the Halloween Eve home game against Michigan the following week. The Gophers will take advantage, and Tim Brewster will get his first win against a top 25 team AND his first trophy game in one shot. Ok sure, it's not a trophy either fanbase cares about, but still, it counts as a trophy game. Minnesota 21 - Penn State 20.

JD - There I was watching a Big Ten preview show on ESPNU when they start talking about Penn State. And just then, it hit me: HOLY CRAP, for a man that will turn 84 years old in December, Joe Paterno has an amazingly thick head of hair!!! Gophers lose by 9.

Ohio_state_medium Sat, Oct 30th

GN - This is the ugly game of the year. Ohio State is pretty good all over the field. Terrell Pryor is the same athlete as Juice Williams but he's actually a quarterback. And they have an offensive line, and dangerous running backs, and a defense that has potential all-americans on it. I tend to believe this is the year of the Buckeye and their trip to TCF Bank Stadium shouldn't be a major stumbling block.

This is that portion of the schedule that will define this team. Are they going to go into a tailspin after likely losing three out of four and potentially four in a row? Or will they fight through these games and come out better for it. But Gophers lose this particular game by double-digits but less than 21.

BB - After facing Penn State the previous week, Minnesota won't have a chance against Ohio State this late in the season. Ohio State will probably shut down the Gopher running game, force a few interceptions due to Minnesota 3rd-and-longs, and Terrelle Pryor will look like a Heisman-winning quarterback against a Gopher secondary that will probably be hampered by injures at this point in the season. Another rung in Ohio State's quest for a BCS Chamionship. Ohio State 42 - Minnesota 10. Gophers' record 5-4.

JG - did not have time to contribute

JK - Remember all that momentum and positive vibes from upsetting Penn State? Yeah hang onto those memories- hard- as the Buckeyes kick the bejeezus out of us for the umpteenth year in a row. Ohio State 45 - Minnesota 13.

JD - Sweater-vests are totally making a comeback. Which is sweet because I happen to look quite dashing in an argyle sweater-vest. This is really good news for Ohio State fans too. You know that saying that goes "in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king"? I've always liked that saying. Anyway, in the land of the sweater-vests Jim Tressel has one eye... wait, that came out wrong. In the land of the blind, Jim Tressel wears a sweater-vest. CRAP. Ohio State wins by 23.

Michigan_state_1_medium Sat, Nov 6th

GN - Hmmm, this is the hardest gauge. Michigan State could be fighting for a top 3 or 4 spot in the conference but they also could be the team the Gophers racked up 42 points against. I think this game is winable and by this point in the season it would be nice to see the defense really coming together and playing well. While I hope I'm wrong, I don't see the Gophers winning three road games this fall and this is one that they lose. Gophers lose a close one.

BB - Last year, Minnesota's strongest showing of the year was against Michigan State at home on Halloween night. This year, Minnesota will play on their turf after facing Penn State and Ohio State in their previous games. Michigan State will be out for revenge, and the Gophers will be banged up and on the road. Michigan State 30 - Minnesota 27. Gophers' record 5-5.

JG - did not have time to contribute

JK - Like last year, these teams should be pretty close in talent, and we'd all be lucky if the game is anywhere near as entertaining. Could go either way, but home field is enough to swing this one for the Spartans. MSU 38 - Minnesota 27.

JD - Have you heard the one about the kid who dresses up like a pirate for Halloween? He goes around trick-or-treating and one lady says to him, "Oh, what a cute pirate! But where are your buccaneers?" So the kid grabs both of his ears, pulls them out a bit from his head so as to show them to the lady and says, "RIGHT HERE LADY, OPEN YOUR BUCKIN' EYES!" The Spartans win by 10.

Illinois_1_medium Sat, Nov 13th

GN - As a Gopher fan I think most of us think this is a game we'll win. Illini fans are probably thinking the same thing. I am probably not giving Illinois enough respect here but I think this is a game that we will not only win but we will control the line of scrimmage and win by 10 points on the road.

BB - Illinois is predicted to have a freshman starting at quarterback with two sophomores and a freshman on the offensive line. Last year they only won three games. Barring several injuries, I can't see Illinois scoring more than 14 points against the Gopher defense. Minnesota 20 - Illinois 10. Gophers' record 6-5.

JG - did not have time to contribute

JK - Minnesota gets revenge for last year's upset- or at least the loss was upsetting for Gopher fans. I mean honestly, would you play hard to keep The Zooker's job if you were Illini players, especially with the very real possibility they could already have seven losses before this game? Yeah me neither. And hey, this is also Brewster's first win over a 1-A team in November! The accomplishments just keep piling up. Minnesota 30 - Illinois 20.

JD - Back when I used to go to Gopher games and would tailgate so hard before the games that I could barely focus on the games themselves, I remember one of my friends brought some girl that she knew to a game when Illinois was good and they were playing the Gophers in the Metrodome. I'd love to tell you when that game was, but I don't remember, and I could look it up, but that would take all the fun out of it (for me). Anyway, this girl was dating one of the linebackers for Illinois and when she tailgated with us she was going on and on and on about her boyfriend this, Illinois that, Rose Bowl this, ranked team that... at least that's how I remember it. Anyway, the Gophers ended up winning that game and we gave this girl absolutely unmerciful amounts of crap after the game. So much so that we finally reduced her to tears (please send your hate emails to buckbravo24@hotmail.com). I don't know if this story has a happy ending for that girl or not, but what I can tell you is that I managed to talk my way into Brother's that night without having to pay the cover charge. Gophers win by 10.

Iowa_medium Sat, Nov 27th

GN - Signature win of the season. Obviously Iowa is very good and they'll have more wins this year than the Gophers. And obviously picking a Gopher win here is more about hoping they win than actually working through all of the Xs and Os to justify why it will happen. But here is my justification. The Gophers get two weeks to prepare for this their last game of the year. Iowa will be coming off their trip to Columbus which will either be an all-time high or a crushing defeat. Regardless that will be a physically and emotionally difficult game while the Gophers will get 14 days to rest and prepare for the Hawkeyes. I'm feeling good about this game.

BB - If there's one game I'd like to see the Gophers win, it is this one. It won't happen. the Hawkeyes won't win 55-0, but they'll pull out a close win in the fourth quarter. Iowa 14 - Minnesota 10. Gophers' record 6-6.

JG - did not have time to contribute

JK - Iowa's going to lose three games this year, and as much as I'd love to tell you one of them will be to Minnesota, well, I can't. But I can tell you who they will lose to- Arizona, Michigan, and Ohio State. Oh wait, and I forgot their annual loss to Northwestern. So four losses for the Hawkeyes. My mistake. Iowa 17 - Minnesota 13.

JD - Fingernails on a chalkboard. Fingernails on a chalkboard. Fingernails on a chalkboard. Fingernails on a chalkboard. Fingernails on a chalkboard. Fingernails on a chalkboard. Fingernails on a chalkboard. Fingernails on a chalkboard. Fingernails on a chalkboard. Fingernails on a chalkboard. Iowa wins by 7.

The Consensus?

GN predicts 7-5 - that seems aggressive but I like this particular team. I realize that I'm picking Illinois, Purdue and Northwestern in our favor; plus I'm giving them a big upset in Iowa. This is really about the best case scenario, but I think the rumors of the Golden Gopher's demise is greatly exaggerated. This team will be better than last year.

BB predicts 6-6 - The Gophers' will pull out a 6-6 record despite having one of the toughest schedules in the entire conference. Unfortunately, the local media doesn't recognize schedule strength as a meaningful factor for determining success. A .500 season will far exceed most National expectations for Minnesota, but the Gophers will enter 2011 with the same questions being asked as in 2010, 2009, 2008...

JK predicts 7-5 - I'm worried that GN and I are thinking alike here- we're supposed to disagree more. Still, must mean great minds think alike? While this is a make-or-break year for Brewster, I think the pressure is off in some ways because the expectations outside the program seem so incredibly low. The offense HAS to be better this year, and I think Horton's simplistic run-first approach will result in a more confident and more productive offense. Defensively if our secondary stays healthy (a big IF I know) and

JD predicts 6-6 - I have a lot of respect for Buck Bravo, but predicting 6 wins? C'MON MAAAN!!! Oh, wait... I did that too. Yeah, 6 wins, that sounds good. Big surprise, but I think this team is going to out-punch its weight class in comparison to national expectations as far as number of wins. But like a good boxer, this team is going to have to pick its spots. There are winnable games on this schedule and the Gophers must take advantage of them. It would be fantastic to see Brewster get his first rivalry game win, but I just don't see it happening this year. Considering experience and the difficult schedule, getting to 6 wins and a mid-tier bowl game is a reasonable goal for this football team.

Our predictions in table format for the visually stimulated among you.

GN BB JK JD
@MTSU W W W W
USD W W W W
USC L L L L
NIU W W W W
NU W W W W
@WIS L L L L
@PUR W W W W
PSU L L W L
OSU L L L L
@MSU L L L L
@ILL W W W W
IOWA W L L L
7-5 6-6 7-5 6-6

For the record, here were last year's prediction results. These are how our authors fared versus their predictions.

  • GN 11-1
  • BB 9-3
  • JG 7-5

Thank you very much.

Pictures via www.thefootballschedule.com

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