Every year the TDG staff makes their week-by-week predictions for the upcoming season. It started back in 2009 when there were just a couple of us typing our fingers to the bone in order to get out as much content as possible. Last year we has a whopping 6 members on staff who contributed their picks for the 2013 season. This year? We have 11 members of the TDG staff! Amazing if you think about. I was going to suggest to GoAUpher that maybe we start weeding a couple guys out but pretty sure I'd be on that short list so 11 seems like a good number.
Before I reveal out individual staff predictions, I should tell you that these are pretty optimistic. All of us here are drinking the kool-aid. Not that that is such a bad thing, but it is clear that none of us are expecting a step back. Brick by brick means we continue to build, in our collective minds there is not chance that we lose any bricks or have to rebuild anything from last year's foundation.
Collectively the TDG staff sees no loss to any team that we view as at approximately our same level or below. Those teams include Eastern Illinois, San Jose State, Middle Tennessee State, Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois and Iowa. Iowa fans may take exception to being considered about our same level but I think it would be hard to argue that they are clearly a tier above Minnesota. Certainly not in the eyes of the staff here.
Here is the table of picks then we will go game by game with some thoughts from the staff included.
So Matt and the new guys are not just drinking the kool-aid, they are just plain drunk with it. GopherGuy is more of a glass-half-empty kinda guy who is cautiously optimistic. Let's go game by game and see how this thing will shake out.
8/28 - Eastern Illinois (opponent preview) - This is our FCS opponent for the year. For a team looking to take steps forward, or really any team wanting to be considered a Big Ten quality team, this should absolutely be a win. The Panthers lost their NFL drafted quarterback but still have a solid enough squad to be a preseason top 20 FCS team. Still, this should be a win.
Matt says we win by 40.
9/6 - Middle Tennessee State (opponent preview) - After a week to get the kinks out and get used to gameday the Gophers get to face the Blue Raiders again this year after making a trip to Murfesboro in 2010. You will see a common theme here but MTSU also graduated a prolific passer who is a rookie in the NFL. Another solid club a year ago, making a bowl game with an 8-4 record, also should not be a problem for this Gopher squad.
Gopher Nation thinks we see a lot of Chris Streveler in this one.
9/13 - @TCU (opponent preview) - now the schedule gets interesting and there is no longer a consensus amongst the staff. 6 of us say win, 5 of us say loss. Personally I think this is going to be a nice win for us. TCU is a middle of the pack Big12 team that is gets called the most overrated team in the conference and the most underrated team by this CBSSports panel of experts. Should be a good defense with some questions on offense. I personally don't like the fact that they get 2 weeks to prepare for Minnesota, but I picked a win anyway. Oh and Casey Pachall was a very talented QB who graduated.
GopherGuy says, "Tough tight game on the road, but MN not quite ready to make the next leap"
9/20 - San Jose State (opponent preview) - David Fales? The best QB we faced last year, now gone for SJSU. This game should be another win for the Golden Gophers. Consensus W from all 11 brilliant football minds.
Hipster thinks it is by 3 TDs, Matt says by 4. Who can argue with that?
9/27 - @ Michigan (opponent preview) - OK now things start to get interesting and the Gophers make the trip to Ann Arbor to try and get back The Jug. Were this game at home I think it would be much more interesting. Michigan isn't unbeatable and if we really are a notch or two better this could be a decent game. Certainly if the Gophers are 4-0 coming into this one it should get a fair amount of coverage. ESPN's Brian Bennett is already calling this a potential early upset. Those on the TDG staff calling for a 10-2 record...this is the game where they get that extra win. My problem is that we haven't scored more than 13 points or held Michigan to under 28 since 2005; coincidentally that was a win. Get the Jug!
PucketWept calls it a loss but it wasn't easy, "That Michigan pick hurts, because that will be a very beatable Michigan team"
10/11 - Northwestern (opponent preview) - A huge road win that really gave this team confidence down the stretch last year. This year it kicks off a VERY important stretch of games that need to be wins for the Gophers if they want to not only make a bowl but improve upon the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Nobody hear can foresee a loss, this should make us all nervous :).
GoAUpher thinks we win a high scoring affair 27-35.
10/18 - Purdue (opponent preview) - Home against one of the weakest Big Ten teams...has to be a win. The staff is all on board with it as such. This game is sandwhiched between Michigan State and Nebraska for the Boilermakers so maybe they view this as the one they can win. I do know we are good enough to win this game but not good enough to overlook it.
Interesting that Hipster thinks we win by 7 while GopherGuy says we win by 28. I'll take somewhere in the middle.
10/25 - @ Illinois (opponent preview) - Another team we need to beat but this one is on the road. Does that scare the TDG staff? Not one bit, 11 writers say it is a Gopher win. The Illini get a week to prepare, I always hate that. This is the one that scares me the most probably.
GoAUpher I think gave us the largest margin of victory with an 11-point win (note: not everyone gave commentary or a score)
11/8 - Iowa (opponent preview) - Should this one be a slam dunk? No, Iowa is a decent team. But they are at home and Who Hates Iowa? The entire TDG staff hates Iowa. So we pick them to lose, every time. We get them at home, we get 2 weeks to prepare...I like our chances to get Floyd back home.
PuckettWept...this is his least confident pick.
11/15 - Ohio State (opponent preview) - So 10 writers picked Ohio State to roll here. Who was the one village idiot? That would be me. Am I confident in this? Nope. But I needed to be different somewhere. The Buckeyes will be coming off a loss at Michigan State to essentially seal their fate as a non-participant in the Big Ten title game. A nationally televised, night game that will end in a loss and Ohio State will come moping into TCF Bank Stadium thinking they'll get a win just for showing up. But brick by brick the Gophers will be improving and won't back down from the Buckeyes.
GopherNation say, "it's possible...right?"
11/22 - @ Nebraska (opponent preview) - The signature win of the Jerry Kill era, now we travel to Lincoln where the Cornhuskers won't be looking past us. Or will they? The following week they'll fight for the prestigious and long-standing rivalry trophy that Iowa and Nebraska has fought over for
decades a couple years. Nobody on staff thinks the Gophers start a winning streak over Nebraska...a consensus loss.
GoAUpher hopes he gets to see Rex Burkhead's mom dancing on tables again. (this didn't actually happen...or didn't it?)
11/29 - @ Wisconsin (opponent preview) - And finally we get to this monster game. Camp Randall on Thanksgiving weekend with a chance to get The Axe back. 8 of us are wishful thinkers, 3 of us aren't so confident this year.
PuckettWept doesn't really think they'll win this game but he'll be damned if he's ever going to pick the
So there you have our team picks. The real question is who's picks should you trust? Below is a table with LTD standings for those who have participated in multiple seasons.
|* not counted in total|
You can see that Matt has been pretty good over the last couple years. JD comes in at second buoyed mostly by a perfect 12-0 season in 2012. Then is begins to taper off after that. Take this information as you will but this is how we see the season shaking out.