The NFL announced their 2015 schedule Tuesday night, and apparently the one overlap weekend between the Gophers and Vikings last season must have went well. Well enough in fact that the U and the NFL decided to there will be four weekends this season where the Gophers will play a home game on Saturday followed by a Vikings home game on Sunday.
Last season there was only one overlap weekend, October 11th and 12th. The Gophers hosted Northwestern for Homecoming on Saturday, and less than 24 hours later the Vikings hosted the Detroit Lions in a NFC North battle. Here is a nice time-lapse from the U in-case you forgot all the effort that goes into the changeover:
We now know that we can expect to see a similar changeover 4 times this season. The dates are:
September 19: Kent State @ Minnesota, September 20: Detroit Lions @Vikings
September 26: Ohio @ Minnesota (Homecoming), September 27: San Diego Chargers @Vikings
October 17: Nebraska @ Minnesota, October 18: Kansas City Chiefs @ Vikings
November 21: Illinois @ Minnesota, November 22: Green Bay Packers @ Vikings
Now for the bad new for Gopher fans. At least for last season, it was explained that to have enough time for the change over to occur the Gophers game needed to start as early as possible. Since all four Vikings games in these double-header weekends are Noon kickoffs, it can be expected that all four Gopher games affected will most likely be 11 am kickoffs. Is it possible one of the Big Ten games could be a 2:30 kick instead? I guess we will have to wait and hear that from the Gophers and the TCF Bank Stadium crew.
It is very possible that in mid-April we already know the approximate start times of six of the Gophers seven home games this season. As Norwood Teague let it be known Tuesday, the Gophers Thursday night opening game will be aired by ESPN, which most likely will mean a kickoff between 6-8 PM. The Gophers Halloween home game against Michigan is also slated to be a night game airing on either ABC or ESPN 2 and in past seasons these games have been 7:00 kickoffs. With the assumption that the four dual weekend games will all result in 11 am kickoffs, then the only home game that we do not have a likely start time for is the regular season finale at TCF Bank Stadium against Wisconsin.
Of course, we also do not know the start times for the Gophers non-conference game at Colorado State or Big Ten games at Northwestern or Purdue. Teague also let it be known that the Gophers will play a prime-time game at Ohio State on ABC or ESPN 2, and will play the next Saturday at Iowa in a nighttime kick on BTN.
So enjoy those prime time games Gopher Fans...because the counter to that fun is that it appears there will be a severe lack of 2:30 kickoffs for the Gophers this season.
4/22/15 10AM: UPDATE Or maybe not. Gopher Football SID Paul Rovnak let us know that the TCF Bank Stadium crew CAN turn around the stadium in time even with a 2:30 Gophers kickoff. He said that afternoon games are still possible and that this doesn't guarantee these games to be 11 am starts. Let's hope we can get at least one 2:30 kick in there!