Sunday, July 15, 2007

FOX Likes The Gophers

Not all Minnesota football previews have been highly negative. FOX Sports' preview released online today suggests an 8-win season is a possibility.

As I finally sat down and began breaking down the season ahead of us, I pegged the squad at 7-5, but I certainly see the opportunity for 8 wins. Here's what FOX writes:

The season will be a success if ... the Gophers win eight games. Starting 3-0 is a near lock, and playing North Dakota State, forgetting the issues of last year against the Bison in a 10-9 win, makes it four almost-certain wins. The offense will be strong enough to beat the lesser Big Ten teams, while the experienced defense might be improved enough to beat teams like Purdue and Iowa.

Key game: Sept. 22 vs. Purdue. The Gophers outplayed, out-gained, and out-executed the Boilermakers in West Lafayette last year, only to lose 27-21. With Ohio State coming up the following week, and a relatively easy three-game stretch to follow, a win over Purdue could possibly mean a 7-1 start, if everything works out well.

The Purdue contest--the first B10 game--could make or break the Brewster's season. A win against Purdue would put the Gophers at 4-0 when Ohio State comes to town. Assuming the lads can't top the perennial national title contender, they will be 4-1 heading into two winnable road games at Indiana and Northwestern. The North Dakota State game follows, before the schedule brings Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. Splitting in those games would equal 9 wins, if the Gophers clean up against Indiana and Northwestern. Nine wins are possible, but eight should be considered a very good season. I'm predicting 7 because I don't see us winning both of those early road games (at IU and Northwestern).