Minnesota Gophers Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
In total I'm writing 30 of these team previews this week. By normal measures Minnesota would not make that cut. They haven't been relevant since, well, forever. They get in for one big reason, though - P.J. Fleck. I'm a huge fan of the former Western Michigan coach and can't believe that some of the schools that had open positions let a team like Minnesota grab him. He's going to be a very good one. It will take a while to make progress in Minnesota, but even when he's struggling he'll be exciting, and his infectious enthusiasm will have an impact. He'll be gone to brighter pastures before Minnesota is a great team, but I'm writing about him now to secure my spot on the bandwagon. Join me - it's going to be a whole lot of fun.
Free $60 in Member College Football Picks No Obligation Click Here
2016 in a Nutshell
This is not the typical profile of a team that changed their coach. For starters the team played seven games against bad teams, and they won all seven of them. That's what teams need to do. They beat a couple of decent teams, too - Northwestern and Washington State in the bowl game. The problem, though, is that they lost to the four best teams they played - Penn State, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Still, 9-4 for a team in a situation like this is only a win or two away from an absolute ceiling, so things could definitely be worse. What marred the season a little, though, was the drama around coach Tracy Claeys. He had been named coach after first taking over on an interim basis from Jerry Kill. Late in the season 10 players were suspended as part of a sexual assault case. The players organized a boycott. Claeys spoke out in favor of his players and was fired as a result. It was an ugly situation, and Fleck needs to move this team past it and into a new era as quickly as possible.
Key Additions and Departures
Mitch Leidner, who it seems was starting at QB at Minnesota for about a decade, is gone. That means they need a new starter, and senior Conor Rhoda has a small edge over sophomore Demry Croft. He'll play behind a line with four guys with starting experience on the line and two returning running backs. The top receiver from last year is gone, and he was targeted more than 100 times, so that's a big hole to fill. They have some options, though, and their top tight end returns after missing much of last year due to injury, which is a boost.
Defensively, the prognosis depends on your view of the importance of depth compared to quality. The four starters on the defensive line are excellent, but the depth behind them basically doesn't exist. There is potential, but nothing is proven. The same goes at safety where the starters are very solid but the backups are mysteries. They lost their top two corners, but they have a couple of guys who played some last year who should be fine, and redshirt freshman Kiondre Thomas is getting a lot of buzz. All in all, the defense has a lot of potential and could be fairly solid.
Fleck didn't have a lot of time recruiting, so his class only barely made the Top 60. Unfortunately for fans of Western Michigan, he brought several of that school's top recruits with him.
Minnesota Gophers Schedule Analysis
Last year Minnesota had to play only one of the big three in the Big Ten East - they lost to Penn State but avoided Michigan and Ohio State. This year they only have to face Michigan in Ann Arbor amongst that group. That will go poorly, and the last two games - at Northwestern and against Wisconsin - will be tough, too. At Oregon State in Game 2 could be a challenge as well because it happens so early, but Minnesota can certainly win it. Nebraska at home is coin toss this year, too. The good news, though, is that there are five games that seem like nearly sure wins, so the floor is pretty high for the team.
2017-18 Minnesota Gophers Betting Odds and Trends
Not surprisingly, Minnesota is not among the 30 or so teams that BetOnline has listed among their national title futures currently . They are at +2800 to win the Big Ten, which places them eighth in the conference. That feels about right. They are heavy 26.5-point favorites in their opener against Buffalo.
The team wound up at 5-5-3 ATS last year. It's impressive to wind up with three pushes in a single season. They went "under" the total seven times in 13 games, including three of the last four.
2017-18 Minnesota Gophers Predictions and College Football Picks
Fleck likely has set the goal of meeting or exceeding last year's record. And it's certainly in play. The problem, though, is it is tough to nail down exactly what feels likely. They could go 5-7. They could go 10-2. Neither would be a huge surprise. I don't think they are beating Michigan or Wisconsin, but everything else is in play. If I had to pick a number it would be eight, but anything feels possible.
Doc's Sports wants you to try out one of their expert college football handicappers, and they are now offering new clients a free $60 in credit that they can use for any handicapper on Doc's Advisory Board. This takes less than two minutes to sign up, and there is no credit card needed and no salesmen to deal with. Get your free college football picks now . Also, get three handicappers for the price of one when you sign up for a full-season football package! Click Here for details . Click Here for details . Get free weekly free college football picks at Doc's Sports free football picks page .
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
Get all of this Weeks Free College Football Picks
Get all of this Weeks 100% profit guaranteed Expert College Football Picks