Potential signature victories

Gophers coach Jerry Kill has suggested his program is in search of a signature victory. Here is a look at the Gophers’ 12-game schedule in 2013 with a ranking of which games have the chance to make the biggest impact if Minnesota wins. (1 = biggest potential impact; 12 = smallest potential impact) This is not a ranking of the caliber of each Gophers opponent — Northwestern could be tougher than Penn State, for example — but a reading of how much each win would mean to Minnesota’s program.

Aug. 29 vs. UNLV (10): The Rebels pushed the Gophers to triple OT last year but finished 2-11.

Sept. 7 at New Mexico State (11): The Aggies (1-11 last year) replaced North Carolina on this schedule.

Sept. 14 vs. Western Illinois (12): The Leathernecks, an FCS team, averaged fewer than 10 points per game last year.

Sept. 21 vs. San Jose State (9): The Spartans (11-2) are good, but fans won’t get too excited about a Mountain West opponent.

Sept. 28 vs. Iowa (8): Big game, but the Gophers defeated Iowa as recently as 2010 and 2011.

Oct. 5 at Michigan (1): Winning at the Big House for the second time since 1986 certainly would move the needle.

Oct. 19 at Northwestern (6): The Wildcats won 10 games last year and are 5-1 against the Gophers since 2007.

Oct. 26 vs. Nebraska (3): The Cornhuskers could easily be 6-0 heading into this game. A loss would crush them.

Nov. 2 at Indiana (7): Wouldn’t be a signature win, but the Gophers are 2-16 in Bloomington since 1969.

Nov. 9 vs. Penn State (4): The Nittany Lions might be on probation, but they were 8-4 last year.

Nov. 23 vs. Wisconsin (2): The three-time defending Big Ten champion is 9-0 against the Gophers since 2004.

Nov. 30 at Michigan State (5): If the Spartans rebound, this would be especially big for Minnesota on the road.