Big Ten: Minnesota Golden Gophers
Supposedly the interesting new thing last year when P.J. Fleck took over, Minnesota was bypassed by Purdue and its rise to bowl prominence under Jeff Brohm.
And now it’s time for the Gophers to be that team that can make the noise as the surprise that gets college football fans talking.
No one’s saying they’re going to take the Big Ten West, and everyone will be falling all over themselves to love and predict Nebraska to become a player right away under Scott Frost, but Fleck might be really, really close to putting something nice together.
He doesn’t quite have the sure-thing quarterback yet, and he’s at least a year away from potentially doing bigger things, but the lines will be fine, the running game great, and the depth is starting to form.
A downfield passing game of any kind would be a hoot once in a while, and the talent isn’t there yet to compete with the big boys, but there aren’t a lot of those types on the schedule.
Fresno State is good again, but that’s in Minneapolis. New Mexico State and Miami University aren’t total speedbumps, but they’re not exactly Alabama and Clemson.
Okay, so going to Ohio State is an ish, and the regular season-ender in Madison against Wisconsin can pocket any crazy dreams of taking the West, but Iowa, Purdue and Northwestern have to come to The Bank, and going Maryland, Nebraska and Illinois isn’t that big a deal.
The team might not be as strong as the record, but nine wins might not be asking for the world.