Breaking down the Gophers football schedule

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 13, 2014 - 8:35 AM

The Gophers hope to be upwardly mobile, but they’ll face a stiff test from an ambitious schedule.

Jerry Kill believes this will be his best team in four years with the Gophers, but he also knows this will be his team’s toughest schedule in that span, too.

In his annual preview magazine, Phil Steele ranks each team’s schedule difficulty based on each opponent’s projected strength. So even though Texas Christian finished 4-8 last year, Steele expects a bounce-back season for the Horned Frogs and thus a difficult road challenge for the Gophers.

Steele ranked the Gophers’ schedule as the 22nd-toughest in the nation, up from 53rd last year. The Gophers went 4-0 in nonconference play the past two years, but that won’t be easy this time.

October brings Northwestern, Purdue and Illinois — teams that combined to go 2-22 in Big Ten play last year. But then comes November — Iowa, Ohio State, at Nebraska and at Wisconsin. Those four combined to go 24-9 in the Big Ten last year.

The Gophers likely will be favored in six games, as they were last season when they pulled three upsets (Northwestern, Nebraska and Indiana) and lost as a favorite to Syracuse, finishing 8-5. A closer look at this year’s slate, with my projected point spreads and each game’s upset potential:

Eastern Illinois, Aug. 28

Projected line: Gophers by 17

Chance for upset: Low

About the Panthers: They went 12-2 last year, clobbering San Diego State but losing to Towson in the FCS quarterfinals. But they lost quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who got drafted by the Patriots after breaking Tony Romo’s school passing records. And coach Dino Babers left for Bowling Green, replaced by Kim Dameron. Still, Eastern Illinois should be tougher than the Gophers’ two previous FCS foes. The Gophers whipped New Hampshire 44-7 in 2012 and beat Western Illinois 29-12 last year.

Middle Tennessee State, Sept. 6

Projected line: Gophers by 13

Chance for upset: Low

About the Blue Raiders: They went 8-5 last year and lost to Navy in the Armed Forces Bowl. MTSU is picked to finish second behind Marshall in Conference USA. Quarterback Logan Kilgore graduated after setting the school record for touchdown passes, leaving a three-man battle for this year’s starting job. Ninth-year coach Rick Stockstill has put together back-to-back eight-win seasons. The Blue Raiders defeated Marshall last year and Georgia Tech in 2012.

at Texas Christian, Sept. 13

Projected line: TCU by 6

Chance for upset: High

About the Horned Frogs: TCU went 2-7 in Big 12 play last year, but four of those losses — including to Baylor and Oklahoma — came by a combined 11 points. Gary Patterson’s teams play great defense, but preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields transferred after an alleged assault. The offense sputtered last year. Trevone Boykin and Texas A&M transfer Matt Joeckel are battling for the QB job.

San Jose State, Sept. 20

Projected line: Gophers by 9

Chance for upset: Low

About the Spartans: The Gophers beat San Jose State 43-24 last year at home. San Jose State finished 6-6 after knocking off then-No. 16 Fresno State. The Spartans must replace prolific quarterback David Fales (a sixth-round draft pick of the Bears) and standout receivers Chandler Jones and Noel Grigsby. The Spartans face Auburn on Sept. 6 and have a bye week before facing the Gophers. Spartans players should be more comfortable with coach Ron Caragher in his second year.

at Michigan, Sept. 27

Projected line: Michigan by 13

Chance for upset: High

About the Wolverines: Michigan has won 22 of 23 meetings against the Gophers, with the lone loss coming at the Big House in 2005. Even last year, when the Gophers had comparable skill, Michigan won 42-13. But Michigan is trending backward under Brady Hoke, whose teams have finished 11-2, 8-5 and 7-6. He hired offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier from Alabama, but the Wolverines had a woeful running game last year, and quarterback Devin Gardner can be a turnover machine.

Northwestern, Oct. 11

Projected line: Gophers by 3

Chance for upset: High

About Northwestern: The Wildcats were 10-3 two years ago and 4-0 last year before losing a heartbreaker to Ohio State. Then, things spiraled into a 5-7 finish. Quarterback Kain Colter graduated, and the Wildcats are less dynamic with Trevor Siemian. The Gophers began last year’s turnaround with a 20-17 victory at Northwestern, but the Wildcats have won three in a row at Minnesota. Former All-America RB Venric Mark is back after a medical redshirt year, although he was suspended for the first two games.

Purdue, Oct. 18

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Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Golden State 6:00 PM
Orlando
Brooklyn 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Portland 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Washington 6:00 PM
Cleveland
LA Clippers 6:30 PM
Detroit
New York 6:30 PM
Dallas
Toronto 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Milwaukee 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Sacramento 7:00 PM
Houston
Utah 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Indiana 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Denver 8:00 PM
Phoenix
Memphis 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Detroit
NY Rangers 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 6:30 PM
Florida
Toronto 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Los Angeles 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Chicago 8:00 PM
Colorado
Calgary 9:30 PM
San Jose
Robert Morris 11:00 AM
Chattanooga
Rochester College 11:00 AM
Eastern Mich
Marist 11:00 AM
Fresno State
Butler 11:00 AM
North Carolina
Liberty 12:30 PM
Morgan State
Denver 1:00 PM
Belmont
American Univ 1:00 PM
Hampton
Sacred Heart 1:00 PM
James Madison
Northeastern 1:00 PM
Massachusetts
Samford 1:00 PM
Kennesaw St
ULM 1:30 PM
Coastal Carolina
Hawaii 1:30 PM
East Carolina
UCLA 1:30 PM
Oklahoma
Missouri 1:30 PM
Chaminade
North Florida 3:00 PM
Elon
Oral Roberts 3:00 PM
Milwaukee
Chicago State 3:30 PM
Western Carolina
Purdue 4:00 PM
BYU
Furman 4:00 PM
Duke
San Francisco 5:00 PM
Evansville
Wisconsin 6:00 PM
UAB
Davidson 6:00 PM
UCF
Albany 6:00 PM
Colgate
Canisius 6:00 PM
Cornell
Longwood 6:00 PM
George Washington
Delaware State 6:00 PM
Iona
Trinity Baptist 6:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cleveland State 6:00 PM
Louisville
St Johns 6:00 PM
Minnesota
PSU-Harrisburg 6:00 PM
Navy
Richmond 6:00 PM
NC State
Grambling St 6:00 PM
Notre Dame
Georgia State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Campbell 6:00 PM
Ohio State
Goucher 6:00 PM
Towson
Bryant 6:00 PM
Vermont
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Mount St Marys 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Yale
UMKC 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Kansas State 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Va Military 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Lehigh 7:00 PM
DePaul
UC Riverside 7:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Marshall
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
North Texas
UNC-Asheville 7:00 PM
South Carolina
Tenn Tech 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Texas Southern 7:00 PM
SMU
Radford 7:00 PM
TCU
TX-Pan American 7:00 PM
Utah
Wayne St-NE 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Northern Ill 7:30 PM
Iowa
Fla Gulf Coast 7:30 PM
Green Bay
Carroll (MT) 8:00 PM
Montana
Florida A&M 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Auburn 8:00 PM
Oregon State
Eastern Ky 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Stetson 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Northern Ky 8:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Utah Valley U 8:05 PM
Idaho State
Florida 8:30 PM
Georgetown
Georgia 8:30 PM
Gonzaga
Northwestern 8:30 PM
Northern Iowa
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
California
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Utah State 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Alabama State 9:30 PM
North Dakota
Portland State 10:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Tulsa 10:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Pacific 10:30 PM
Alaska-Anchorage
Missouri State 11/27/14 1:00 AM
Colorado State
Ohio U 24 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 21
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Kennesaw St 11:00 AM
Seton Hall
Northern Ill 12:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Illinois-Chicago 12:00 PM
Northwestern
UT Martin 12:30 PM
Samford
Niagara 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Radford 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh
East Tenn St 1:00 PM
Indiana
North Dakota 2:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
LSU 2:30 PM
Texas-El Paso
Marshall 4:00 PM
Cornell
Kansas State 5:00 PM
Santa Clara
Oral Roberts 5:00 PM
Ark-Little Rock
Boise State 5:30 PM
Yale
Evansville 6:00 PM
(22) West Virginia
(4) Tennessee 6:00 PM
Chattanooga
Delaware State 6:00 PM
Mount St Marys
Bradley 6:00 PM
Columbia
Providence 6:00 PM
Dayton
Presbyterian 6:00 PM
Xavier
Albany 6:00 PM
Canisius
VA Commonwealth 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Alabama A&M 6:00 PM
Alabama
Colgate 6:00 PM
(22) Georgia
Memphis 6:05 PM
Southern Ill
Oakland 6:30 PM
(16) Michigan State
Utah Valley U 6:45 PM
UC Davis
Butler 7:00 PM
BYU
TX-Pan American 7:00 PM
(6) Texas
McNeese State 7:00 PM
(7) Texas A&M
Milwaukee 7:00 PM
Marquette
Northern Ariz 7:00 PM
TX-Arlington
Jackson State 7:05 PM
Chicago State
Indiana State 7:05 PM
South Alabama
Long Beach St 8:00 PM
Alaska-Anchorage
Iona 8:00 PM
Kansas
Fresno Pacific 9:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

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