Minnesota Gophers have easiest schedule in Big 10, giving fans false hope

Most college football coaches who take over programs are wise to manage expectations in the early years, and Gophers coach P.J. Fleck is no exception.

 

The Gophers are still inexperienced at several key positions going into Fleck’s second year — quarterback being chief among them — and any coaching change brings about a new way of doing things. Fleck’s culture change, one would imagine, is more dramatic than most. Hence, the urging of fans to be patient.

 

But if you’re looking for one area where the Gophers should have an edge over their Big Ten peers this season, it’s in the slate of foes who will line up across from them. The Gophers’ schedule looks objectively favorable, and CBS Sports has taken it a step further.

My favorite time of the year. College football is about a summer away and the only thing that can get us in the football mood is chatting about schedule’s. And the Minnesota Gophers have the easiest schedule in the Big Ten for this upcoming season. Giving Gopher fans the most false hope since Tubby Smith. This team isn’t good and won’t be for at least the next three or four years. There’s trouble at quarterback and there’s players with little experience trying to compete for top offensive and defensive spots. Maybe the Big Ten knows the Gophers are really bad and gave them a 2018-19 cheat code.

Kind of interesting that Minnesota doesn’t have a single Football Subdivision Conference opponent yet they have the worst schedule in the Big Ten. Honestly, they added a top tier FCS school their strength of schedule would be boosted.

Using a methodology that includes the five-year history of teams, whether games are at home or on the road and whether teams are coming off bye weeks, the site says the Gophers’ 2018 schedule is the easiest of all 14 Big Ten teams.

 

The site points to a favorable home slate: non-conference games against New Mexico State, Fresno State and Miami (Ohio) as well as conference games against Iowa, Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers do have five Big Ten road games — including at Ohio State and Wisconsin — but CBS Sports concludes that “it won’t be easy, but compared to their Big Ten brethren, it might be easier than others.”

 

We’ll see if that — plus another year of growth within Fleck’s system — is enough to help the Gophers improve substantially on their 5-7 finish in Fleck’s first year. Given the schedule, at least gaining bowl eligibility (a low bar to clear, but still) is a place to start.

This is what the Gophers do to us. We think months before the season starts that some wins will come this season. The wins will come, they’ll just be against bottom level talent and that is not enough compete for a championship.

Also, want to know how the Gophers are doing? No players were drafted in the 2018 NFL Draft. That’s pretty laughable.

 

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