Back in October we let you vote in our 2020 Minnesota Golden Gophers Football reader polls for the third consecutive season. We all knew going into the season it was going to be a weird one, but I don’t think anyone fully expected the level of crazy that we ended up seeing. Despite the unpredictable nature of the way the 2020 season ended up playing out, you guys still did a pretty good job of predicting several things that did happen this season. But there were a few where you were waaaay off. So lets take a look back at your votes from October and see what really happened this season.
Well 61% of you were most definitely correct. The Gophers scored just 22 touchdowns as a team in their seven games this season....and Mo scored 15 of them. In just seven games he was just three TDs off of the all-time Gophers single season record of 18 held by Gary Russell. That’s one heck of a season for the Big Ten Running Back of the Year.
This one was pretty much a gimmie. Obviously 96% of you were correct. Mo’s 1076 yards were just....about 900 more then Cam Wiley’s second place performance of 179.
Now we get into out first “trick” question of 2020. 89% of you though Rashod Bateman would get more than 800 receiving yards this season. Unfortunately I don’t think anyone thought Bateman would only play just five games for the Gophers. In those five games he totaled 472 yards meaning if he kept his average of 94.4 yards per game over the final two games he still would have come short of the 800 mark, but it would have been closer.
Here is another one where the vast majority of you were very very wrong. Whether you thought the Gophers would play more games, have a better passing attack, or that Morgan would not regress toward the mean pretty severely, you were all wrong in some way. Tanner didn’t come anywhere close to 18 TD passes, he ended the season with just seven. Let’s hope for a better passing performance in 2021.
There was a much larger spread of predictions on this one this season, but 21% of you could be correct as nine different Gopher offensive players would record a TD in 2020. Ibrahim led the way with 15 all on the ground, Seth Green scored two rushing, Bateman had two in the air, Cam Wiley picked up one each rushing and receiving, Treyson Potts added a rushing td while Chris Autman-Bell, Michael Brown-Stephens, Ko Kieft, and Brevyn Span-Ford each added one receiving.
Once again there was a wide spread in guesses for this question, but the plurality of you, 39% got this one right guessing between 27-31 points per game. The actual final total was 27.3 points per game, which is not too bad. The problem was that the defense allowed 30.1 points per game.
Once again a majority of you got this one correct. Mariano Sori-Marin did in fact lead the Gophers in tackles this season with 54. He had 13 more than Tyler Nubin in second place with 41 and then Jordan Howden with 37 in third. Durr had 29, and BSJ had just 14.
You guys are better at your defensive guesses than offense. 70% of you were definitely correct that Boye Mafe would lead the team in sacks, and he did recording 4.5 of the team’s 8 sacks in 2020. The second place finisher didn’t even specifically make the list as the emergence of Deangelo Carter and his 1.5 sacks coming up the middle was a nice surprise this season. Other sacks this season went to Esezi Otomewo with one, and a half sack each for Micah Dew-Treadway and Thomas Rush. Not a single sack from anyone other than a d-lineman. That’s...not great.
This was not your best category. 42% of you got this correct split between the 25% voting for Coney Durr and the 17% voting for Tyler Nubin. They each had one interception this season which placed them in a five-way tie for first on the team...with one. The other three players to record a pick? Deangelo Carter, James Gordon and Josh Aune. Nobody had those three that’s for sure.
You all had a lot more faith in the scoring prowess of the defense than what actually happened. Only 3 % of you were correct in predicting that the Minnesota defense would not find the end zone in 2020.
Special Teams Polls:
This one was a litte better, but you still have way too much faith in Minnesota’s special teams group. 41% of you were correct that there would be no special teams touchdowns in 2020. The Gophers came the closest in their opening game when Preston Jelen blocked a Michigan punt and the Gophers nearly scored. But that was about it. In fact Minnesota returned just five punts ALL season with Jelen’s 17 yard return the longest. On kickoffs it wasn’t much better with just 15 returns on the season and the longest being Mo’s 27 yarder return. The good news is that Minnesota did not give up a special teams TD either in 2020...so that’s a plus.
We all knew the Gopher kicking game wasn’t great coming into 2020...but only 2% of you saw this disaster coming. Minnesota ATTEMPTED just six field goals in 2020, and made only four of those six. Both Brock Walker and Anders Gelecinskyj were 2-3 on the season with Gelecinskyj’s 38 yarder in the finale against Wisconsin being the longest kick made all year. The Gophers finished the season 22-25 on extra points as well with Gelecinskyj being the only perfect one at 5-5. Michael Lantz would miss one before missing the remainder of the season and Walker would miss two before ending his year with an injury. Add in the punting and COVID woes and it really was not a great year for Minnesota’s specialists room.
It seems a lot more of you were much more positive in October than what really happened. over 70% of you has the Gophers playing nine or more games. That might have happened had COVID not hit the team so badly, but alas Minnesota played just seven games in 2020 leaving 8% of you with the correct answer.
The same 8% who got the last one right are probably pretty similar to the 8% who got this one right—that Minnesota did not go to a bowl and it was basically COVID cancelled. It’s kind of a grey area as no one really saw the opt outs becoming a thing, but several of the bowls were cancelled due to COVID and teams opting out. IF Minnesota had elected to go to a bowl, only one of you would have probably been right as it seemed like Minnesota was destined for the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix had they not opted out and the game would be cancelled due to the lack of teams to fill it. All in all you were a lot more optimistic in the 2020 season than what really happened.
It was a really weird season, but for what all did happen some things you predicted and some you were way off. As we hopefully get back to a more normal 2021 season, it will be interesting to see where your predictions go and just how accurate you can be.