Minnesota Football: Game-By-Game Predictions for the Golden Gophers' 2014 Season

Game-By-Game Predictions for Minnesota's 2014 Season

6/9/14 in NCAAF   |   rlnichols11   |   22 respect

The Minnesota Golden Gophers enter 2014 coming off a surprising 8-5 campaign a season ago. Blog Photo - Minnesota Football: Game-By-Game Predictions for the Golden Gophers' 2014 SeasonAlthough they slowed down a little bit once Big Ten play got underway, they managed an impressive home victory against then-No. 24 ranked Nebraska as well as a birth in the Texas Bowl against Syracuse

Although they lose quarterback-turned-felon Philip Nelson, they return running back David Cobb, one of the best kept secrets in the conference. After running for 1,200 yards a season ago, Cobb comes back with All-Conference potential. 

Defensively, despite the loss of stud defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman to the NFL, the Gopher defense that surrendered only 22.2 points per game a season ago returns largely in tact, led by defensive lineman Theiren Cockran

With a favorable schedule, Jerry Kill's team could be positioning itself for a breakout season. 

8/28 vs. Eastern Illinois: W 

A season opener against an FCS opponent is always a good practice run to get warmed up for the season. No issues here. Minnesota gets a blowout win under its belt right off the bat. 

9/6 vs. Middle Tennessee: W 

Middle Tennessee surprised quite a few people going 8-5 with a bid to the Armed Forces Bowl against Navy in 2013. Even though the average college football fan might not know about them, the Blue Raiders are a strong non-power football program. That being said, I think David Cobb is a little too much for them to handle. The Gophers win a close one at home.

9/13 at TCU: W

Four years ago, the Horned Frogs were one of the most beloved Cinderella stories in the entire country. But since going 11-2 in 2011, they've gone 7-6 and 4-8 each of the last two seasons respectively. They're trending downward, while the Gophers are headed in the opposite direction. They'll keep it close at home, but Minnesota will pull away in the fourth to get the victory. 

9/20 vs. San Jose State: W 

Before Big Ten play gets underway, the Gophers host a San Jose State team that ended its 2013 season with a huge upset victory over Fresno State. The Spartans visited Minneapolis last season and lost 43-24. I'm expecting a better Minnesota team than a season ago. Much like last year, they should be able to handle the Spartans without any real issues. 

9/27 at Michigan: W 

In what might be viewed as a mini upset, I like Minnesota to go into Ann Arbor and steal a victory to kick off conference play. With the instability at quarterback and on the defensive side of the ball, I think Michigan is in for another disappointing season. Cobb will run over this defense, and quarterback Mitch Leidner will do enough to get the Gophers past the Wolverines. 

10/11 vs. Northwestern: W 

Northwestern was supposed to be the breakout team a season ago. After a primetime loss to Ohio State, its season spiraled completely downhill and it didn't win another game until the finale against Illinois. I don't expect much from the Wildcats again in 2014. Minnesota should win this easy.

10/18 vs. Purdue: W 

The Boilermakers will struggle to be competitive with anybody in the Big Ten outside of teams like Rutgers and Indiana. The better teams in the conference like Minnesota should run them over. Cobb has another big day, and the Gophers win a blowout. 

10/25 at Illinois: W 

With Josh Ferguson at running back, the Illini have an electric offensive weapon that can keep them in a lot of games. Unfortunately, they don't have much else going for them besides Ferguson. Playing at home, Illinois can hang around and keep it close. Ultimately, it won't have enough else offensively to break this stingy Gopher defense. Minnesota keeps on rolling. 

11/8 vs. Iowa: W 

This will be another close call for the Gophers. Iowa's defense will be able to slow Cobb down enough to hold Minnesota's offense in check, but doesn't have enough offense to do much against the Gophers' defense either. It'll be tight, but I think Minnesota's defense makes a big play late and puts it over the top.

11/15 vs. Ohio State: L 

In what will end up being a surprising showdown of undefeated Big Ten teams, ultimately I think this is where the Gophers stumble. Ohio State's revamped offense will be completely in rhythm by then, and its front line will be able to close a lot of Cobb's running lanes. This will be by far the best offense the Gophers will have faced all year. They aren't ready for an Urban Meyer onslaught; the Buckeyes win a close one in Minneapolis.

11/22 at Nebraska: W 

Nebraska football continues its slip, and it will culminate against the Golden Gophers. At this point, I expect the Huskers to be in a freefall similar to what happened to Northwestern last year. I think Bo Pelini has lost his fan base, his school, and ultimately his team. The Gophers get another big win in conference play.

11/29 at Wisconsin: L

A great regular season for the Gophers will end on a sour note. Although I like their defense, they can't stop Melvin Gordon. Frankly, I don't think anybody can. He's headed for a monster season, and I think he ends up in New York for the Heisman ceremony. Gordon is too much for the Gophers to overcome, and the Badgers hand Minnesota its second loss of the season.

2014 Minnesota Projected Record: 10-2 (6-2)

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