The Minnesota Gophers are off to a great start to the season, cruising through their non-conference schedule to a 3-0 record. Minnesota hosted all three of its non-conference games against New Mexico State, Western Illinois, and Colorado. While their opponents are all currently a combined 0-10, the Gophers did what they were supposed to, beating all three opponents by a score of 149-17. With that said, let’s do a quick recap of what went down during each game and take a look at the rest of this year’s schedule and next year’s non-conference slate.
New Mexico State Aggies
The Gophers started their season with New Mexico State who has been very bad over the last few years. The Aggies are 5-25 over the last three years (including their 0-4 record in 2022). The biggest storyline from the game was Jerry Kill returning to Minnesota and some blown up controversy by the media between him and P.J Fleck. Nothing came from it and all speculation was gone before the game even started with Kill and Fleck shaking hands prior to kickoff.
Once the game started it was all Minnesota, who got their first home shutout since 2006 in a 38-0 win. The Gophers ran the ball at will and the defense held the Aggies to 91-yards of total offense. A good start to the season for a team that was retooling their offensive and defensive lines.
Western Illinois Leathernecks
In week 2 Minnesota routed FCS Western Illinois 62-10. The Gophers absolutely dominated the game, gaining 679 yards of total offense and holding the Leathernecks to 194 yards of total offense. The Gophers looked unstoppable, with even the backups driving down the field and scoring. Minnesota’s run game was complemented well with almost 400 yards through the air. Ibrahim and Potts both scored twice as the Gophers cruised to 2-0 on the season.
Minnesota faced their toughest opponent (and no Colorado is not to be considered “tough” in any way) and made quick work of the Buffaloes, routing them 49-7. The Gophers were led by solid performances from Tanner Morgan and Mohamed Ibrahim, who each had three touchdowns. The Gophers found a lot more balance on offense with 166 yards passing and three touchdowns while rushing for 334 yards and four touchdowns. Minnesota was in complete control from start to finish, suffocating Colorado offensively.
Rest Of The 2022 Schedule
The remainder of the Gophers schedule is now all Big 10 play. They get their first real test on Saturday as they travel to East Lansing to take on the Spartans (2-1). The following week they host Purdue (1-2) before getting a bye in week six. Coming off the bye they got two tough road opponents in Illinois (2-1) and Penn State (3-0 and it is the “White-Out” game). Thankfully things will get a little easier after that as they host Rutgers (3-0), before traveling to Nebraska (1-3). The Gophers will then play Northwestern (1-2) and Iowa (2-1) in a two game homestand before heading over to Camp Randall to take on Wisconsin (2-1) to end the year.
The Gophers Big 10 schedule will not be easy, especially with road games against Michigan State, Illinois, Penn State, and Wisconsin. If the Gophers keep playing at the level they have been, they should have no trouble taking care of business. If they falter along the way, who knows what will happen, we’ll just have to wait and see.
A Look At Next Year’s Non-Conference Schedule
The Gophers non-conference schedule next year will be much harder than what they have this year, or it would appear that way. For starters they travel to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina. Their other opponents in Eastern Michigan and Louisiana should be much tougher opponents than New Mexico State and Western Illinois. All of the Gophers opponents next year will also be FBS level as they don’t face any FCS teams in 2023.
vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles
The Gophers are currently set to open the 2023 season on September 9th at home against the Eastern Michigan Eagles. Eastern Michigan so far this season is 2-1 with wins over Eastern Kentucky (42-34) and Arizona State (30-21), who they upset on the road as -20.5 point underdogs. The Eagles only loss so far is to Louisiana (49-21), who is also scheduled to play the Gophers next year. Eastern Michigan looks to be a step up from this year’s competition, and have proven to have upset capabilities, as shown this past weekend.
@ North Carolina Tar Heels
In week two the Gophers travel to Chapel Hill to take on the Tar Heels in a ACC-Big 10 showdown. This will be a big test for the Gophers as North Carolina has been good over the past few seasons. The Tar Heels are 24-17 since 2019 (including their 3-0 record this season). North Carolina’s wins this year have been over Florida A&M (56-24), Appalachian State (63-61), and Georgia State (35-28). Gopher fans will be happy to see a tough road game after this year’s weak schedule.
vs. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
To end their non-conference schedule (as of right now), the Gophers will host the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns on September 30th. Louisiana is 2-1 on the year with wins over SE Louisiana (24-7) and Eastern Michigan (49-21). Their only loss came this past week against Rice (33-21). For those of you concerned about the loss to Rice, they are 2-1 with their only loss to USC as of right now. Louisiana, like Eastern Michigan, should be a much better opponent than this year’s group.
For the Gophers, next year’s schedule looks much better. Eastern Michigan, North Carolina, and Louisiana all appear to be much better teams and should provide much better tests than the three teams Minnesota played this year.