Well, my friends, it is game week and we are kicking off the 2023 college football season. YOUR Golden Gophers are going to go full gold-out as they host Nebraska on Thursday night.
(yeah, yeah, I know it’s Tuesday, but bear with me)
As the Gophers enter this new season I am contemplating expectations, as I do every season at this time of year. This is a unique season where the program is replacing quite a bit of returning production from what was a good 2022 season.
Arguably the best quarterback in a generation is gone. Arguably the best Gopher running back of all-time is gone. The offensive line is replacing 3 starters, the defense loses 2 defensive backs who were drafted along with a few other key starters. There are going to be a lot of new faces on this 2023 team.
Many times, in my lifetime of being a Gophers fan, losing your starting quarterback along with so many other key starters would mean this coming year is going to be a tough one. And add to that the fact that we have one of the toughest schedules in the country and there is good reason to be very pessimistic about this year.
It isn’t as though there are sky-high expectations for this season, but there seems to be a baseline that this team will still be solid and on the same level as the other top teams in the West.
The floor of this program has been significantly raised.
There can be a fair conversation around how much the ceiling has actually been raised or not, but the floor is unquestionably raised.
Say what you want about where the Gophers fall in the yearly recruiting rankings. But the talent level has been raised, more players are not only being drafted by finding success in the NFL and the expectations for wins has been raised.
So what should we expect with this year’s team?
Vegas has the Gophers win expectations line at 7. Are you taking the over? The under? Let’s take a birdseye view of the schedule.
- @Ohio State
These two programs are in the conversation for a national championship. A Gopher win in either of these games would be a seismic surprise to the college football world.
- Eastern Michigan
The two G5 teams plus a reeling Northwestern program, these should absolutely be wins for Minnesota.
- @North Carolina
We should be underdogs in all three of these games, but would anybody be surprised to see the Gophers win? Not really. Snagging 1 or 2 from this list is the difference between a decent season and a great one.
- Michigan State
One could argue that Nebraska could be in the “win” section, but all of these are teams we’ll likely be favored over. But again, would a loss to a decent Big Ten team be a total shock? Not really.
Seven wins? Can they snag a win in a game they’re not favored while not dropping any they shouldn’t?
So what are the reasonable expectations?
Is 7-5 a good season when you apply the context of the challenging schedule and roster turnover? Especially if you consider that this season is one about gaining experience for this younger roster that could really have an elite season in 2024.
But is 7-5 while losing to both Wisconsin and Iowa (again) going to be considered a good season? Maybe not when you put it that way.
We already posted win predictions and asked for yours. I’m not going to repeat that here. But what are your expectations for the 2023 Gophers?