Thursday, August 27, 2009

Breaking Down the Gophers 2009 Schedule

Alright then, we've talked about what we're excited and concerned about with the Gophers, taken a few jabs at the rest of the conference, and today we look at the Gopher's schedule. What can we expect from Brew's Crew in 2009? While even in my wildest dreams (especially the one about the Love panda and the unicorn and Veronica Corningstone and the most beautiful rainbow I've ever seen...wait nevermind) I don't think the Gophs are going 12-0, but they're not going 0-12 either. So where in between can we expect? Let's break it down into three categories: games where the Gophs will be favored (and therefore SHOULD win), games that could go either way, and games they definitely will NOT be favored. I didn't plan it this way, but it actually divides perfectly into thirds- or as Moses Malone once said: Fo, Fo and Fo. Ok then.

@ Syracuse Sept. 5
Air Force Sept. 12
Purdue (Homecoming) Oct. 10
South Dakota State Nov. 14

I certainly don't have to tell fans of Golden Gopher football that when it comes to the Maroon and Gold, there's unfortunately no such thing as a gimme. There's been too many heartbreaks and too many "YOU GOTTA BE $*%&ING KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!" games over the years to believe that, even as much as I love Coach Brew, that we're at a point where we can really, truly, honestly say with confidence that "this game is a gimme. We should destroy these guys and we WILL!" Still, barring absolute and total disaster, Minnesota will be favored to win these four games (they're already 6.5 point favorites against Syracuse), and I'm not only going to say they SHOULD win these games but that they WILL win these games. So at the very, very worst, the Gophs win four.

California Sept. 19
@ Penn State Oct. 17
@ Ohio State Oct. 24
@ Iowa Nov. 21

I'm predicting they'll be at least a touchdown dog heading into these contests, and I think they'd do well to stay within 7-10 of all four of these teams. This isn't a knock on the Gophers as much as it is respect for the opponents. I really don't think people in the Midwest understand how good Cal is- they're LOADED on offense, have a preseason All-American running back in Jahvid Best, and will probably be ranked in the top 10 by the time they come to Minneapolis. I'd love to see Minnesota pull off the upset in any four of these matchups, but I'm going to play it safe and say they lose all four.

@ Northwestern Sept. 26
Wisconsin Oct. 3
Michigan State Oct. 31
Illinois Nov. 7

I wanted to put the Northwestern game in the "gimme" column except, well, need I remind you how that went last year? Didn't think so. I'm counting on some sweet, sweet revenge in Evanston next month, but the Wildcats being the Wildcats and the Gophs being the Gophs, you just never know. I LOVE The U's chances to pull the upset the following week when they host Sconnie. Wisconsin opens the season with four games at Camp Randall (and three of the four are cupcakes) before hitting the road to the MSP, so it's quite possible the Badgers could be favored by a field goal or more. Still, I'm lovin' the upset and some more payback for another heartbreaker last year. Michigan State is the preseason #3 choice in the Big Ten and are getting some love in the national top 25, yet by the time they visit The Bank, who knows what the line will look like? Another good chance the Gophs are underdogs coming in, but with homefield, and also believing the Spartans are overrated this year, I like another mild upset. Finally Illinois rolls into town in November, when for the first time in nearly three decades, the chilly Minnesota weather is going to play a factor for the visitors. I'm VERY bullish about Illinois this year (more on that in my Big Ten predictions tomorrow) so I see the Illini getting some payback for the Gophs big upset down in Champaign in 2008 that started to unravel Illinois' season, but again, this one could go either way.

So it looks like Minnesota is pretty much guaranteed four wins and four losses, and the other four could go either way. The fact three of the four toss-up games are at home, and the other is at Northwestern, means they've got a very real chance at eight wins this year. I'm going to officially predict a seven win season regular season, and hopefully Brewster's first bowl victory to finish it off.

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