Minnesota Football Prediction 2020
Written by Ben Pekay
Sept. 3 Florida Atlantic- Win
Sept. 12 Tennessee Tech- Win
Sept. 18 Iowa- Win
Sept. 26 BYU (Homecoming)- Win
Oct. 3 @ Maryland- Win
Oct. 10 @ Wisconsin- Loss
Oct. 17 Michigan-Win
Oct. 24 @ Illinois- Win
Oct. 31 @ Michigan State-Win
Nov. 7 Purdue- Win
Nov. 21 Northwestern- Win
Nov. 27 @ Nebraska- Win
The 2020 University of Minnesota football season looks hopeful for the Golden Gophers. They return 9 starters on offense. Mike Sanford Jr. is the new offensive coordinator for the Gophers after Kirk Ciarrocca left and went to Penn State to coach their offense. Minnesota returns star quarterback Tanner Morgan who threw for 3,253 yards and 30 touchdowns last season. They also return Rashod Bateman who was the Big Ten’s receiver of the year last year. He caught 11 touchdowns and had 60 receptions for 1,219 yards. He will be Minnesota’s biggest threat on offense this year and is poised to have another big year. They also return their entire starting offensive line. The other end of the ball is more questionable. Minnesota only returns 4 starters this year. Minnesota’s All-American safety Antonie Winfield Jr. was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round. Minnesota returns Defensive Back Jordan Howard who had 57 total tackles last year with 6 pass deflections. Minnesota will only go as far as their defense takes them.
Minnesota has one of the easier schedules in the Big Ten and in the country. They begin against Florida Atlantic. Lane Kiffen, who used to coach at FAU, left to become the head football coach at Ole Miss. They replaced him with Willie Taggart who coached at Florida State and Oregon. This is a rebuilding year for FAU so Minnesota should be easily able to beat them. Next is Tennessee Tech, who was 6-6 last year. Minnesota should easily win this game because of the talent on their team.
After Tennessee Tech, Minnesota has Iowa on a Friday night in Minneapolis. This is the first true test of the season for the Gophers. This game will be an indicator of how the rest of the season will go. Last year Minnesota lost to Iowa 23-19, so this year they will be looking for revenge. Iowa has a new starting quarterback this year after Nate Stanley graduated. It will probably be Spencer Petras who has studied behind Nate Stanley for almost two years. Iowa returns their top five receivers including Ihmir Smith-Marsette who caught 5 touchdowns and had a total of 722 yards last year. This game will be very competitive and could come down to a final game winning kick. I expect Minnesota to win because they are better at the quarterback position. Next for Minnesota is BYU. Last year, BYU went 7-6. They have returning Quarterback Zack Wilson who threw for 2,382 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. They also have Tight End Matt Bushman who had an average of 14.6 yards per catch last year and 4 touchdowns, not to mention a very experienced offensive line. This game will be challenging for Minnesota. Last time BYU played a Big Ten team, they won on a missed game winning field goal over #6 Wisconsin. Minnesota will win this game because they are more talented than BYU and the BYU defense will not be able to stop Minnesota’s offense.
After BYU, Minnesota goes on the road to College Park to play Maryland. Maryland’s starting quarterback will probably be Josh Jackson who threw for 1,274 yards last year with 12 touchdowns.The newly transferred Taulia Tagovailoa could also be starting for the Terrapins. Maryland doesn't have much around Jackson with their best player last year, Anthony McFarland, getting drafted in the fourth round by the Steelers. Minnesota will leave College Park with an easy win. After Maryland, Minnesota has their toughest test of the season. They have an away game at Wisconsin. Last year, with a spot in the Big Ten Championship on the line, Minnesota lost to Wisconsin 38- 17. Since then, Wisconsin has lost Jonathan Taylor, their star running back, to the NFL. Wisconsin’s starting quarterback is Jack Coan who threw for 2,727 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. One strength for Wisconsin is their defensive line. They return almost every player including Isaiahh Loudermilk who is poised for a breakout season. He had 24 tackles last year with 3 sacks. This game will be very close. I expect Minnesota to lose because Wisconsin has a stronger defense and Jack Coan will be improved from last year.
Next is a home game against Michigan. Minnesota will beat Michigan and reclaim the Little Brown Jug. Shea Patterson has left for the NFL, so Michigan will start either Dylan McCaffrey or Joe Milton. I expect Dylan McCaffrey to have the starting job. He is inexperienced and a not very accurate passer so he will throw many interceptions. Minnesota will need to watch out for Nico Collins who had 728 receiving yards last year with 7 touchdowns. I don't expect Michigan's defense to be good enough to make up for their offensive errors. Minnesota will win this game because they are more talented than Michigan and Minnesota's defense will outplay Michigan's offense. After Michigan, Minnesota has an away game at Illinois. I expect Minnesota to win, but they need to be careful. Illinois is returning its starting quarterback, Brandon Peters, who threw for 1,884 yards and 18 touchdowns, and its best wide receiver, Josh Imatorbhebhe, who caught 9 touchdowns and had a total of 634 yards last year. Illinois’ defense looks solid this year and should be a challenge for any team. Minnesota will need to play a complete game to beat the Illini. I expect them to come out of Champaign with a close win.
After Illinois, Minnesota has Michigan State. In the offseason, Michigan State replaced Mark Dantonio with Mel Tucker. This will be a rebuilding season for them. Minnesota should cruise to an easy away victory. Then they have Purdue, Northwestern and Nebraska. These were the 3 worst teams in the Big Ten West from last year with a combined record of 12-24. Minnesota should win all of these games. First, Minnesota has Purdue. Purdue’s starting quarterback is probably Jack Plummer who threw for 1,603 yards with 11 touchdowns in 2019. Purdue’s defense was bad last year. They allowed 6.02 yards per play in 2019. This game will be a shootout and Minnesota will come out on top because their defense will outplay Purdue’s defense. After Purdue, Minnesota has Northwestern. Northwestern had a tough year last year, after going to the Big Ten Championship in 2018. Northwestern has a new play caller this year and no great option at the quarterback position. Minnesota will easily cruise past Northwestern. In the final regular season game, Minnesota has Nebraska. Nebraska returns Adrian Martinez who threw 9 interceptions last year and 10 touchdowns. Nebraska's defense will not get much better from last year. They gave up 4.82 yards per rush last year. Minnesota will easily cruise past Nebraska to end their regular season.
Minnesota will only go as far as their defense takes them this year. The game against Iowa will be an indicator of how the rest of the season goes. An 11-1 record for Minnesota will be a successful season, and one that could possibly end in a Big Ten championship and a berth in the College Football Playoffs. In a very competitive Big Ten West where any team can win the division, Minnesota is going to have to make few mistakes if they want to win their division.