A tougher road ahead

The scheduling stars aligned for the Gophers this season, helping them start 9-0, which gave them a chance to win the Big Ten West before a 1-2 finish. Next year, the Gophers still won’t draw Ohio State, but it’s a more difficult road ahead. Star Tribune staff writer Megan Ryan looks at the Gophers’ 2020 schedule:

Sept. 3 vs. Fla. Atlantic

Lane Kiffin’s Owls won Conference USA’s East division at 9-3.

Sept. 12 vs. Tenn. Tech

The Eagles were 6-6 in the FCS this season.

Sept. 19 vs. Iowa

The Gophers will want payback in an earlier-than-usual “Floyd” clash.

Sept. 26 vs. BYU

The Cougars went 7-5 this season, beating Boise State and USC.

Oct. 3 at Maryland

Gophers won 52-10 this year. Terrapins had only one Big Ten win.

Oct. 10 at Wisconsin

An early return to Camp Randall, where the U won 37-15 in 2018.

Oct. 17 vs. Michigan

The Wolverines are 9-3 in coach Jim Harbaugh’s fifth season.

Oct. 24 at Illinois

Illini are bowl-eligible for the first time since 2014.

Oct. 31 at Michigan State

The Gophers are 0-5 against the Spartans since 2010.

Nov. 7 vs. Purdue

Standout receiver Rondale Moore should return healthy.

Nov. 21 vs. Northwestern

The Wildcats finished 1-8 this season in the Big Ten.

Nov. 27 at Nebraska

A Black Friday finale against a team that underachieved at 5-7.