The Minnesota Golden Gophers started the 2019 college football regular season 9-0 but lost two of their final four games to finish 11-2. However, the Golden Gophers did defeat Auburn 31-24 in the Outback Bowl. Oddsmakers have given Minnesota an over/under win total of 9 for the 2020 season.
The success of the 2020 season for Minnesota will hinge on the play of quarterback Tanner Morgan and star wide receiver Rashod Bateman. In 2019, Morgan became the first Golden Gophers quarterback in the history of the football program to throw for over 3,000 yards and 30 touchdown passes. Bateman is one of the nation's elite receivers and last season had 60 receptions for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. The entire starting offensive line will return from last season which will make life easier for both the running game and Morgan when dropping back to pass.
However, Minnesota will have several new faces on its defense, with the biggest shoes to fill being those of former safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who is now playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL. Just five starters from last season return for the Golden Gophers and five of the defenses’ top six tacklers must be replaced. The secondary less Winfield returns from last season and will be the efenses top unit. Linebacker Mario Sori-Marin will start in the middle but the rest of the unit has little experience, while the defensive line has only one starter returning from last season with big question marks from right to left.
The early part of the schedule for Minnesota looks quite easy with Florida Atlantic, Tennessee Tech, BYU and a home Big Ten battle with Iowa. The Golden Gophers could get off to a 4-0 start. In addition, in their fifth game the Golden Gophers play on the road against Maryland and could with strong play begin 5-0. However, starting with its road game against Maryland, the Golden Gophers will have four games out of the next five on the road including at Wisconsin and Michigan. Minnesota also has to play both Illinois and Michigan State away from home, while hosting Purdue before a week off then host Northwestern and visit Nebraska.
Free NCAAF Pick:
Minnesota has a daunting Big Ten schedule against powerhouses such as Michigan and Michigan State. The Golden Gophers might be able to fix any glaring weaknesses on the defense during the first four weeks of the regular season in order to be prepared for a tough conference schedule. Minnesota's defense will not hold up over the course of the season and the Golden Gophers will fail to win more than 9 games. Final Prediction, UNDER 9