Minnesota Golden Gophers 2023 College Football Preview
July 25, 2023
Record – 9-4
Just keep ROWING THE BOAT, buh buh.
Minnesota started out 4-0 and outscored their opponents during that HEEETER to the tune of 183-24. Sadly, they dropped their next three games and only got HEEETED up again when the schedule got more to their liking (Rutgers, CORN, Northwestern). They won the season finale ON THE HIGHWAY vs their hated rivals from Madison (W 23-16) and moved to 4-0 in bowl action under HC PJ Fleck by disposing of Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl. That made it nine wins, and the Gophers have posted nine or more victories in each of the last three full seasons.
Minnesota Golden Gophers 2023 Outlook
It’s not often you see a college back TOTE THE ROCK over 300 times in a season but that’s exactly what RB Mohamed Ibrahim did during his phenomenal 2022 campaign (320-1,665, 20 TD! LY). The Gophers will feature more of a balanced attack this season with the insertion of QB Athan Kaliakmanis into the full-time starting QB role. He showed some flashes LY and engineered a couple of nice wins including the aforementioned victory over Wisconsin. The WR/TE weaponry is the best we’ve seen in a long time as they feature several dangerous wideouts and a stud TE in Brevyn Spann-Ford (42-497, 11.8, 2 TD). Keep your eye on Charlotte transfer WR Elijah Spencer who had a big season with the 49ers LY (943, 9 TD) and it’ll be great to get WR Chris Autman-Bell back and healthy. Losing Ibrahim and backup Trey Potts is a killer but at least they pilfered former Western Michigan RB Sean Tyler who’s been a productive veteran (2,830, 23 TDs career). The OL could be a problem area as they lose their outstanding center and only return a pair of starters. Fleck always seems to get the rushing attack to work so we’re cautiously optimistic. This will be a much more dangerous offense but with more passing comes more three-and-outs (usually).
The Golden Gophers put together another great season behind ace DC Joe Rossi as they finished the season ranked #4 in the nation in scoring defense (13.8 PPG) and #9 in total defense (295 YPG). It’ll be interesting to see if Minnesota can HIT THE TRIFECTA and book a 3rd consecutive stellar season on defense but it won’t be easy. They only return six starters on defense and lose a couple of NFL DCs in the secondary. Also note that they lacked PENETRATING ability LY and tallied a mere 19 sacks (2nd last Big Ten). We’re not sure where the sacks are gonna come from this season, particularly up front, but they’ve got an excellent 1-2 punch at LB in Cody Lindenberg (#2 tackler) and Western Michigan transfer Ryan Selig. We also think they’ll be fine on the back end even with the aforementioned losses to the pros. This will be an above-average defense but the high-level stats will drop as we expect they’ll spend more time on the field. And it’s gonna be hard to get away with a lack of PENETRATION for a second consecutive year.
Losing PK Matthew Trickett isn’t great but they’ve got a reliable punter in Mark Crawford and a solid return dood in Quentin Redding (PR/KR).
Overall – Their only tough game in non-conference play is a DOOZY (at UNC) and they draw Ohio St (A) and Michigan (H) from the East. On a positive note, they get to face Illinois and Wisconsin at home.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – Eastern Michigan (Sept 9)
This week two match-up is gonna be a tricky cover for the home team as they’ll be coming off a season-opener vs Nebraska (!) and they’ve got the road trip to UNC on deck. Eastern Michigan is a solid MAC squad and they’ve SHOCKED the WORLD before. Not saying, just saying.
Season Win Total
Market consensus July 25
Over 7 -120
Under 7 +100
This won’t make our final dance card but it looks like eight-wins might be the limit for this team. Then again, they keep proving us wrong! Note there are some ‘7.5s’ out there so shop around if you wanna get down on some SWEET UNDER ACTION.
HC PJ Fleck is great at BULLY BALL as he’s a sparkling 12-6-1 ATS (66%) vs non-conference foes and 7-4-1 ATS (64%) in the role of away favorite. Fleck is also a respectable 13-11 ATS (54%) as home chalk.
One of the great mysteries of all-time is how the wonderful people of the GREAT STATE OF MINNESOTA have allowed the city of Minneapolis to devolve into a crime-ridden cesspool. If the Documentary Channel is still a thing, maybe we can expect an episode on this tragedy in the coming years?
Just win, baby.
PJ Fleck and company have rattled off 29 wins in the last three full seasons. That’s impressive stuff. It’ll be tough to get to the top of the Big Ten West mountain this year as we expect better things from Wisconsin and Iowa, and CORN and Illinois won’t be pushovers. The offense will be better at SCORING the FOOTBALL but the defense will not be as dominant. We’ll call for seven wins and a bowl appearance and believe that their floor is high (six wins) but the ceiling is low (eight wins). In any event, ROW THAT BOAT!