Two of the best college football preview magazines — Athlon's and Street & Smith's — expect the Gophers to finish sixth in the Big Ten West, with Athlon's predicting a 6-6 record and 3-6 Big Ten mark, a one-game improvement over 2017's 5-7 and 2-7 marks. Athlon's also projects the U to play North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, while Street & Smith's does not have the U making a bowl game, nor does it predict a record.

Athlon's named All-Big Ten first, second and third teams, and Gophers senior Rodney Smith is the second-team's all-purpose player. The Gophers had four players on the third team: receiver Tyler Johnson, linebackers Carter Coughlin and Thomas Barber and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. Street & Smith's selected one All-Big Ten team, and there were no Gophers on it.

Athlon's rated the 23 new head-coaching hires from 2017 and had Fleck at No. 16 but wrote, "Word of caution for those eager to call P.J. Fleck a bust: His first team at Western Michigan went 1-11."

Randy Johnson