TDG 2012 Consensus Week-by-Week Predictions

This is year 4 of the TDG staff predictions for your Gopher football season and with each passing year we are less and less accurate. In 2009 I managed to have an 11-1 record (mind you, we just have to get each particular game result correct, so the Gophers could actually lose a ton of games but if we accurately predict that loss, it is a win for this little exercise). 2010 I was 8-4 which was good enough to beat the newbies JD and Jeffrick. Then last year we all only nailed 5 games, but what do you expect when we lose to New Mexico State and North Dakota State? Here are our results over the last three seasons...

2009 2010 2011 2-year Total Win %
GN 11-1 8-4 5-7 13-11 0.542
JDM 7-5 5-7 12-12 0.500
Jeffrick 6-6 5-7 11-13 0.458

Now we've added GoAUpher to the mix and maybe his presence alone will force us to raise our collective games. Here are the TDG Staff predictions for the 2012 Gopher Football season.

This is a really long post so you'll have to click past the jump to read it

GoAUpher predicts a 6-6 (3-5) record and here is how it will play out

I'm going to offer best case/worst case and then my actual prediction for each game. You'll notice that my worst case always has the Gophers losing. That's because I think they are capable of losing any (though not every) game on their schedule. My best case is not a mirror of that. Despite my homer-ish tendencies, I still think there are some games the Gophers will not win this season.

@ UNLV:

- Best Case: The defensive line is disruptive all night and creates multiple sacks without blitzing. The secondary performs a solid bend/don't break style that stiffens as the game goes on. Q completes 60% of his passes, there are no WR drops, and we have a RB go for over 100 yards. Troy or Marcus house a kickoff return. Max Shortell is able to come in to pilot the offense for a series or two. UNLV's final TD comes against the 2nd string D. Score? 48-17.

- Worst Case: The defense gets worked consistently, especially on big plays. The offense is forced to keep the team in the game but Q is shaky, throwing 2 INT's and completing 45% of his passes. WR's drop several catchable balls which stall drives and the only running game comes from Q's legs. It's a close one most of the way but the Gophers falter late, losing 27-21.

- Prediction: The defense is not perfect, but we see flashes of what Hageman can bring while the DB's create 1 INT. Q is solid as a passer (55% completion) and continues to be a force on the ground, running for over 100 yards. The WR's have a drop or two, but they also create at least 1 long TD play. Running back yards are spread between Kirkwood and Gillum, and the 2 combine for 175 yards on the ground. Game is closer in the first half before the Gophers pull away in the 2nd. Final Score: 31-17 Minnesota. Predicted record through 1 game: 1-0 (0-0).

New Hampshire:

- Best Case: The Gophers dominate from the opening whistle. Career days are racked up by multiple players on both offense and defense. Another KR is housed for a TD. Gophers win 55-10.

- Worst Case: The Gophers lose. The details and score don't matter.

- Prediction: I think (hope) the Gophers win this one pretty easily. Q throws for 300 and runs for over 100. At least one of the running backs also goes for over 100. The defense records 3 to 5 sacks and 2 turnovers, though they are not completely dominant. Final Score: 38-7 Minnesota. Predicted record through 2 games: 2-0 (0-0).

Western Michigan:

- Best Case: Another rout. Gray throws his first INT, but continues to complete around 60% of his passes while the WR's continue to avoid the drops. The running game produces a 100 yard rusher for the 3rd straight game. The defense forces another 2 TO's and several sacks, though the do give up several big plays. Gophers win 35-21.

- Worst Case: WMU moves the ball at will through most of the game. The Gopher offense starts slow and is playing catchup all day. The game is close for moments but is never really in doubt. WMU wins 42-28.

- Prediction: The defense is not very successful against the WMU passing attack, but they do get some key stops to keep the Broncos from pulling away at any point. The offense is solid but not spectacular. Gray continues to look good and throw quality balls, but his WR's let him down at times and the running game never gets going. The offense becomes the MarQueis Gray show as the game drags on. Sadly, it's not enough. Final Score: 31-28 Western Michigan. Predicted record through 3 games: 2-1 (0-0).

Syracuse:

- Best Case: Gophers move to 4-0 with another dominant performance over a meh non-con opponent. 4th game of Q passing at around 60%, 4th straight 100 yard rusher, another strong performance by the D-Line and more turnovers created. Syracuse starts slow and never recovers. Gophers win 45-14.

- Worst Case: See WMU. Gophers lose 38-13.

- Prediction: I think the Gophers recover nicely from their loss to WMU. Q continues to produce at a 55% completion rate while running for nearly 100 yards. The RB committee produces a total of nearly 150 yards. Defense breaks on occasion, but never enough to put the game truly in doubt. Final Score: 28-17 Minnesota. Predicted record through 4 games: 3-1 (0-0).

@ Iowa:

- Best Case: The Gophers lead from start to finish. It's not a blowout, but the Hawks never take the lead despite threatening late. Iowa fans are demoralized again. Gophers win 28-24.

- Worst Case: Iowa is 4-0 after tearing through their soft NC schedule. Minnesota doesn't stop this trend and loses an non-competitive contest 35-14.

- Prediction: I think the Gophers get their first win in Kinnick since 1999. It's a back and forth game, but the feeling of momentum stays with Iowa through most of the contest. The Gophers go down by 10 at one point, but the D stiffens and allows Q to lead the team to another victory. No onside kick required this time. Floyd is pleased to remain in Dinkytown. Final Score: 28-24 Minnesota. Predicted record through 5 games: 4-1 (1-0).

Northwestern:

- Best Case: While it's a tight game through one half, the Gophers never trail. The fans are energetic and it's a great Homecoming atmosphere. Gophers win 38-28.

- Worst Case: Northwestern's offense is clicking and the Gophers D cannot get the stops they need. The offense is flat and the game is never in doubt after the first quarter. Gophers lose 42-21.

- Prediction: Another back and forth contest. The Gophers threaten to break it open late in the 1st half, but the Wildcats force a TO and the game remains close. Neither defense is able to do much to stop the other and this becomes an entertaining game that goes to OT. The Gophers D stands tall and forces a FG while Gray connects with McDonald for the game winning TD. Final Score: 44-41 Minnesota. Predicted record through 6 games: 5-1 (2-0).

@ Wisconsin:

- Best Case: The Gophers keep this one close before falling by a FG late. Badgers win 31-28.

- Worst Case: Another blowout, only this time there aren't any big Special Teams plays to be excited about. Gophers lose 41-7.

- Prediction: The Gophers keep it close in the first half and lead briefly. But the defense is worn down by the Badger running game and the offense is not able to sustain their early momentum. It's another year without Paul Bunyan's Axe. Final Score: 35-17 Wisconsin. Predicted record through 7 games: 5-2 (2-1).

Purdue:

- Best Case: Every QB on the Purdue roster tears an ACL and the game is never close. Gophers win 35-14.

- Worst Case: The game is never really competitive but never becomes a complete blowout. Gophers lose 28-7.

- Prediction: This is where the Gophers make it to bowl eligibility. It's a very close game the whole way and both teams have chances to break it open that are dashed by untimely turnovers. One of the young Gopher wide receivers has a career day, catching 3 TD's and over 100 yards. Q adds a rushing TD to seal it late. Final Score: 31-28 Minnesota. Predicted record through 8 games: 6-2 (3-1).

Michigan:

- Best Case: The Gophers keep it close with an offensive explosion through 3 quarters. Minnesota puts a scare into Michigan fans everywhere but sadly, Little Brown Jug is not played by the Pride of Minnesota. Michigan wins 38-28.

- Worst Case: It's not 58-0, but it's pretty bad. The Gophers defense gets torched and the offense is only able to string together 1 quality drive all game. Michigan wins 45-7.

- Prediction: A respectable showing. The Gophers are strong early, holding DRob in check and disrupting the Michigan offense. The Gophers offense grinds out some solid drives and avoids turnovers in the first half. Michigan makes the needed adjustments at halftime however and is able to open up a solid lead that they never relinquish. Final Score: 38-17. Predicted record through 9 games: 6-3 (3-2).

@ Illinois:

- Best Case: The Illini are a mess in Tim Beckman's first season. The offense is hit or miss and the defense never plays up to it's potential. The Gophers are able to dictate the tone of the game and run away with it early. Gophers win 35-14.

- Worst Case: The Gophers come out extremely flat and Illinois goes straight MAC-tion on offense. Gophers lose 45-14.

- Prediction: While I could certainly see the Gophers winning this one while dropping an earlier game to Northwestern or Purdue, I think by this point in the season the Gophers might be facing some depth issues due to injury. They keep it closer and make a late rally that falls short. Final Score: 28-20 Illinois. Predicted record through 10 games: 6-4 (3-3).

@ Nebraska:

- Best Case: Nebby decides to make this their annual "lets lose one at home that shouldn't even be close" game. Gophers capitalize on turnovers and short fields to get a victory in Lincoln. Gophers win 28-27.

- Worst Case: Blowout in the cold. Friendly Nebby fans cannot provide enough free drinks to wash away the stink of this one. Gophers lose 48-7.

- Prediction: I think this will be your run of the mill "good team beats mediocre at best team" type of game. Final Score: 42-14. Predicted record through 11 games: 6-5 (3-4).

Michigan State:

- Best Case: A mostly full TCF Bank Stadium is on hand to witness a game that is worthy of an "Upset Alert" on the ESPN ticker. The Gophers make it exciting but have their hopes dashed late. Gophers lose 35-28.

- Worst Case: Moderate blowout in the cold in front of a quickly dwindling crowd. Gophers lose 35-3.

- Prediction: See Nebraska game. Final Score: 35-14. Predicted record through 12 games: 6-6 (3-5). PIZZA PIZZA!

JDMill predicts a 6-6 (2-6) record and here is how it will play out

@ UNLV - It's absurd that I've only been to Vegas a grand total of about 12 hours of my life. It's equally absurd that I only gambled about 1 hour of that time. But I walked out of Vegas up $5 + the free Miller Lite I drank at 8:00 in the morning, so suck casinos!

Gophers win 34-18. Record 1-0.

New Hampshire - My grandparents used to keep an artsy painting of a clown in their basement, and the background behind the clown was orange and yellow and I'm assuming that it was meant to look like a clown resting as the sun went down after a touch day of clownin'. In reality it looked like that clown was sitting in hell and it wasn't until me, my sister and my cousins were all into our 20's until one of us (probably me) admitted it scared us, followed by everyone else admitting the same thing. My grandpa found this hilarious and to this day my grandparents keep that painting in their bathroom at the nursing him. I use the community restroom instead.

Gophers win 35-14. Record 2-0.

Western Michigan - As a Maker's Mark Ambassador in good standing, I encourage you all to try Maker's 46. It's so oak-ey and delicious and I really shouldn't be craving bourbon this early in the morning.

Gophers win 18-13. Record 3-0.

Syracuse - Can anybody teach me how to Dougie, t-t-teach me how to Dougie?

Gophers win 24-21. Record 4-0.

@ Iowa - Does anyone else care less and less about the NFL as the year's go on? Honestly, I think I've watched a grand total of a dozen snaps of pre-season Vikings football and that was mostly only because I was in a bar facing a wall that had a television on it that was showing the game. Jeffrick and I watched about 5 snaps of the first preseason game before we gave up and started drinking heavily, which then digressed into our first podcast of the season.

Iowa wins 27-23. Record 4-1.

Northwestern - You know that kid from the Jerry McGuire movie (can't remember his name in the movie, but in real life he's Jonathan Lipnicki and he grew up to be a muscle head and probably a roid-rager... I made that up) who said that bees and dogs can smell fear. Well that little punk lied. Neither one can smell fear.

Northwestern wins 21-20. Record 4-2.

@ Wisconsin - If you ever meet me you should ask to see my crooked arm. I'm not the only person in the world like this, but it's still weird and kind of gross and I am probably the only one who has had their arm screwed up by the world-famous Mayo Clinic. I still can't go near a jungle-gym without getting a pit in my stomach.

Wisconsin wins 38-17. Record 4-3.

Purdue - Did you hear the one about the guy who went to the doctor? After careful examination the doctor walks into the room and says to the guy, he says, "Sir, I'm sorry to tell you this, but you've got cancer." The guy, obviously in shock, responds "I'd like a second opinion." The doctor, now frustrated, replies, "Okay fine, you're ugly."

Gophers win 34-18. Record 5-3.

Michigan - Shameless plug: follow me on Twitter @jdmill

Michigan wins 38-24. Record 5-4.

@ Illinois - Did anyone else see the feature story on the WWL about the semi-pro football league in Eastern Indiana/Western Ohio? These guys are responsible for their own equipment and their own medical insurance. And as such a dude died... DIED... during a game because of a blindside hit to the chest that knocked his heart out of rhythm. Look, I love football, but somebody should maybe tell these guys to switch to beer-league softball.

Gophers win 38-17. Record 6-4.

@ Nebraska - I am a man of 34 years old and I am not a small man (husky), but I will tell you from recent experience that nothing emasculates me more than having mice in my house.

Nebraska wins 42-24. Record 6-5.

Michigan State - Flipping channels over the weekend I came across "Tombstone" on AMC. If you've never seen "Tombstone" please leave this blog now and never, ever, come back. Seriously, go. My goodness what an awesome movie. It has everything. Great dialogue. Great plot. Twists and turns. Guns. Violence. Horses. A classic "shit's about to get real" moment. A female character that almost ruins everything for everyone. I want to watch it again right now. I own Tombstone on VHS, how on earth don't I own it on DVD yet? I am a failure.

MSU wins 31-21. Record 6-6.

Jeffrick predicts a 6-6 record (3-5 B1G) and here is how it will play out

@ UNLV - If this game were played at the end of the season, the Gophers probably win by three touchdowns. But first game of the season with a relatively inexperienced group of skill position guys (the QB excluded), a reshuffled offensive line, and 3/4th's of a new secondary? Oh yeah, and don't forget it's a weird start time at 800pm out there on a Thursday, and it should be in the 90's around kickoff. This game makes me really, really nervous. I feel like if they win the Gophers have a great shot to go bowling. If they lose, they're sunk before the season really even starts because on paper this is easily the second worst team Minnesota will play all season. And if they can't beat them...well let's not think about it, shall we? Gophers win 24-16.

New Hampshire - Blow out. At least it better be. This isn't a 1-AA school from the Dakotas, after all. Gopher W 41-13.

Western Michigan - Trickiest game on the schedule, this one looks like an easy blow out of a MAC school, but we should know better than to sleep on the MAC by now. HC Bill Cubit has four winning seasons and three bowl games in his seven seasons at the helm, including a 37-32 loss to Purdue in last year's Little Caesar's Bowl. To which you say...wait Purdue was in a bowl game last year? Apparently so. Anywho, it's a team that likes to throw, and 5th year senior Alex Carder throws it well. He's started each of the past two seasons, and has to be chomping at the proverbial bit to go against an inexperienced Gopher secondary. I can't believe it but...yeah I'm picking a Bronco upset 35-27 as Carder goes off.

Syracuse - SB Nation Cuse blog has the Orange winning this one. Well two can play that game- BOOM! Minnesota victory 27-20. Also, my wife and I are taking her family to this game, including her dad who's a big Badger fan and likes to rub it in how bad Minnesota has been, so I'll be, um, "darned" if I'm taking them to a game where the Gophers will lose to Syracuse. Not happening.

@ Iowa - You have no idea how badly I want to pick the upset here. Ok, if you're a Gopher fan you know EXACTLY how much I want to pick this. How sweet would that be?!? The last time Minnesota beat Iowa three straight times was 1998-2000. Thanks to the addition of Nebraska, the schedules were reworked allowing the Gophs to host the Hawks two straight years (the last time that happened was 1942 and 1943), and Minnesota took advantage pulling two upsets. But this third one will be the toughest. Yes, both previous victories (and especially that first one to end the successful-but-short-lived Jeff Horton Era) were shocking, but unlike the last two this is not only in Kinnick, but it's early in the season. I want it to happen but I just don't think it'll happen...I just hope I'm wrong. 28-22 Iowa.

Northwestern - If my predictions are correct (and hopefully they won't be), the Gophs are now 3-2, and this game becomes an absolute must-win if they have any hopes of going bowling. Conveniently Northwestern is in town for homecoming, and because as a Gopher fan I must eternally disrespect and under estimate the Wildcats, I can pick a Gopher victory 31-27. And of course, Northwestern blogs and fans will eternally disrespect and underestimate the Gophers and pick a Wildcat win, as is their right.

@ Wisconsin - The last time Minnesota beat the Badgers was 2003, as Bucky has rattled off eight straight sometimes close, sometimes really, really not close victories. The last time Minnesota beat Wisconsin in Madison was 1994, so yeah, it's been awhile. With Wisconsin coming off their second consecutive Rose Bowl (loss) and Minnesota coming off their second consecutive three win season, I'd like to tell you this is the year the Gophers break the drought, but I think you know this is not the year Minnesota breaks the drought. I like their chances a lot more next season at home, and even more so in 2014. For this season, not so pretty as Sconnie rolls 42-24.

Purdue - The Gophs and Boilermakers (is it wrong everytime I hear the word "Boilermaker" I think of Seabass? I don't think it is. And how do we feel about a real sequel to that movie with the original stars? I'm was intrigued until Jim Carrey just annouced he was out. Now I'm out too.) have played each other pretty consistently as the teams have split their past four meetings, three of which were in West Lafayette. The 45-17 whuppin' Purdue put on the Gophers last year was on the road, and I like Minnesota's chances of beating the Boiler's four-headed QB at home. Gophers win 29-23.

Michigan - The Gophers had the golden opportunity to beat Michigan at their lowest during the Rich Rod Era, and missed. Year 2 of the Brady Hoke Era when Michigan is a likely top-10 team is not the time an upset will happen. It won't be as bad as last year's 58-donut, but I don't see Shoelace and company having any trouble again this year. Michigan rolls 42-22.

@ Illinois - I suppose we should probably stop taking wins over Illinois for granted. Then again, why? Minnesota makes it three in a row over the Illini 37-32. And WE! ARE! BOWLING!

@ Nebraska - We talked about the Gophers' recent history with Iowa and Wisconsin, so I suppose we should talk about the Huskers too. The two have only played 16 times since 1960, and last year's 41-14 loss to Nebraska was the first time the two had met since 1990. Still, Big Red has won 15 straight, and in the past 11 Nebraska has averaged 48 points per game. Minnesota? Try 6.54 points per game, including being shut out 4 times. This is one I would LOVE the Gophers to get, but not this year. Too bad Taylor Martinez won't be around to arm punt in two more years when Jerry Kill will have thing thing hummin' and the Gophs will have a chance. As for this season, not quite as lopsided as recent history, but the Huskers still win comfortably 35-16.

Michigan State - Fine, I'll admit it- I still have trouble respecting the Spartans, at least when they play Minnesota. They're absolutely a great choice to represent the West division in the B1G title game and go the Rose Bowl, they have a monster defense, another good offense, and a solid head coach. Yet all of those things were true last year, and yet the Gophers had a chance to tie the game on their final drive. Oh and that was IN East Lansing. This year it's at home, it's the last game of the season, and if something crazy is going to happen and the Gophs are going to pull a big upset, this is where it'll happen. I just don't have the stones to pull the trigger on this one, but I see it being close throughout. Spartans hang on 35-31.

GopherNation predicts a 7-5 record (3-5 Big Ten) and here is how it will play out

@ UNLV - Being on the road to star the season sucks but this is a game that we should win and might be the best barometer game on the schedule. We should win, we should win with relative ease and I'd be shocked if we dominate. This might be the non-conference game that worries me the least. I think the Gophers go on the road, show that they are an improved and more fundamental team. Gophers win by 13.

New Hampshire - The Wildcats were 8-4 last year and begin the season ranked #12 in FCS. They have been an FCS ranked team for 113 consecutive weeks and have made the playoffs 8 straight years. But we have GOT to start beating even the best FCS opponents. New Hampshire is breaking in a red-shirt freshman QB who won the job this fall but they look to have a very good returning defense. Doesn't matter, we win this. Gophers by 11.

Western Michigan - The aerial attack of the Broncos concerns me. Their QB, Alex Carder is going to be a third-year starter and in each of the past two seasons he had completed over 63% of his passes, thrown for at least 3,300 yards and 30+ touchdowns. Our secondary is a question mark and this will be the game that they will need to be ready to answer some of those questions on this day. WMU returns 13 starters losing mostly receivers. We should be able to move the ball and I still think Kill's familiarity with this MAC opponent should help. We win, but it is dicey. Gophers by 4.

Syracuse - This actually concerns me less than the Broncos. I think Syracuse is a very similar program to ours that plays in a weaker conference. They too return a talented and productive quarterback, but the rest of their team does not scare me. If this game were on the road, I'd be more concerned, but it isn't. Gophers by 8.

@ Iowa - Now it gets more difficult. I really, REALLY want to call a third straight win over the Hawkeyes here. On one hand they should have a worse rushing game than they did last year even and we should be playing with tremendous confidence. They lose both coordinators, 3/5 of their OL, Marvin McNutt, half their secondary and bunch of defensive linemen. But they also might actually take the Gophers seriously this year. No more catching them at the end of the season when they aren't playing for anything important. They have been embarrassed two years in a row by the Gophers and will be fighting mad(d). But screw it, Gophers get a huge road win and keep Floyd. Some kool-aid being drunk here but it is what it is. Gophers by 7.

Northwestern - Holy COW, the Gophers are 5-0 ready to host the Cats. This is intriguing and one that would go a LONG way towards the Gophers getting bowl eligible. NU is replacing what was a porous secondary and we should be able to move the ball on their defense. Their offense might be really good or it might be struggling to replace Persa. I really do think we can and will win this one. The Cats have a history of winning close games, but their shakey defense and a new QB will equate to a Gopher win this week. The season will quickly turn south after this game but I really think we could be 6-0 or 5-1 after this particular game. Gophers by 3.

@ Wisconsin - No delusions of a win here. I personally think Wisconsin is overrated this year and will struggle more than most people think. An entire new assistant coaching staff (except Thomas Hammock), another transfer QB, replacing a lot of OL and some very good receivers will make them more one-dimensional than in previous years. But they are still very good (just not great) and shouldn't have a problem with Minnesota. This year it starts to get closer but the Gophers don't get The Axe back (yet). Badgers by 13.

Purdue - A lot of people are pointing to this one as another potential Gopher win, but I think Purdue is a sleeper in the Big Ten this year. They return their QB, RBs, majority of OL and some key players on defense. They are still a tier 2 team, but they are better than the Gophers. This one also will be closer than it was a year ago but it is still a loss (wait till next year). Boilermakers by 17.

Michigan - Michigan, like Wisconsin, will not be quite as good as advertised. Are they talented and will they be very good? Absolutely, but are they a top 10 team in the country? I don't think so. In fact I think they might surprise Alabama in week one but they end up finishing 3rd in the Legends Division. But this isn't a BCS preview, they are clearly more explosive and talented than the Gophers. The Jug remains in Ann Arbor, but is again not quite as bad as the 55-0 thumping we took last year. I actually think the Gophers make this one closer than it should be before falling. The Wolverines will have lost two in a row to Michigan State and at Nebraska so they'll be a bit bruised (their egos) coming to TCF Bank Stadium. Wolverines by 7.

@ Illinois - Now we finally get back to winning. I am just not very impressed with Illinois. They do have some really talented players on defense and maybe they'll be a more disciplined team than they were under Zooker, but I like our chances here. Gophers by 6.

@ Nebraska - Nebraska, in Lincoln, will be very good. This team is a real power team that I think will have little trouble with our improving but not there yet Gophers. It won't be as embarassing as it was last year and their starters will have to play all four quarters but Nebraska wins. Huskers by 20.

Michigan State - I think Michigan State is the best team in the Big Ten. Their running game will be much improved and they have an outstanding defense. But for some reason the Gophers tend to play them well. Gophers are playing to improve their bowl game but MSU will be playing for their spot in the Big Ten title game and they get the road win. Spartans by 10.

Gophers go bowling!

Consensus Picks

Below is a grid of our consensus picks.

GoAUpher JDMill Jeffrick GopherNation
@UNLV W W W W
New Hampshire W W W W
Western Michigan L W L W
Syracuse W W W W
@Iowa W L L W
Northwestern W L W W
@Wisconsin L L L L
Purdue W W W L
Michigan L L L L
@Illinois L W W W
@Nebraska L L L L
Michigan State L L L L
6-6 (3-5) 6-6 (2-6) 6-6 (3-5) 7-5 (3-5)

Can't wait for kick-off tonight as the first of 13 Gopher football games this year.

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