Excuse me if I seem a bit inebriated, but I've been drinking some serious Kill-aide...kool-aid...see what I did there? If you've seen any highlights from the Gophers spring practice or heard coach Jerry Kill speak for more than 11 seconds, you almost can't help it. Kill has brought a new attitude to Gopher football, and everyone...even the notoriously pessimistic Pat Reusse...seems to be buying what Kill is selling.
So what does 2011 hold for the Gophers? I think this is a bowl team. Of course, I thought that last year, and I also thought that they would beat USC at the Bank, to the point of buying tickets and attending the game. A game, I might add, the Gophers had a lead in well into the second half until Tim Brewster remembered he was Tim Brewster, and the Gophers got rolled in the 4th quarter. So let's pull out the crystal ball and try and get an idea of where the Gophers will be bowling. Yeah, bowling, I said it.
Sep 3, at USC: I don't see this as a win, but it will be a 'good loss'. I think the game will be a close one, and the Gophers will take USC to the limit. At the end of the game, Gopher fans will think 'hey, we might have something good here', but the rest of the college football world will go 'what's the deal with USC?' Gopher fans will be right. 0-1.
Sep 10, New Mexico State: This is one of the worst football programs in Div I football, and the Gophers will do something they usually have a hard time doing: beat the crap out of an inferior opponent. 1-1.
Sep 17, Miami (OH): This will be another test for the Gophers, as Miami is the defending MAC champions, and they beat Kill in Kill's last game as the NIU coach in the MAC championship game. That said, I think this will be the game where Marqueis Gray becomes the next Denard Robinson, only without getting hurt every fourth or fifth play. These were the games Brewster teams lost, and these will be the games Kill teams win. 2-1.
Sep 24, North Dakota State: Gopher fans are rightly petrified about this game, but with all due respect to our friends to the west, Minnesota has better athletes up and down the roster, and they now have a better coach. 3-1.
October 1st, at Michigan: This will be the 2011 Big Ten 'Addition By Subtraction Bowl', because Tim Brewster no longer coaches the Gophers, and Greg Robinson is nowhere near the Michigan defense. I think the reports of Michigan's resurgence are premature, because that defense is...just...awful, Greg Robinson in exile be damned. And Minnesota was better than their 3-9 record showed; Jeff Horton showed what some decent coaching could accomplish as he was able to beat two teams that won bowl games at the end of the season. I'm calling an upset, and the Jug comes home to Minneapolis. 4-1.
October 8th, at Purdue: Purdue has been hit with so many injuries that I don't know what to make of them. I do think Danny Hope is a big step down from Joe Tiller, and it will be nice to look over at the other sideline in 2011 and think "I'll take our guy" more often than not. 5-1, and Minnesota is ranked in the top 25.
October 22nd, Nebraska: Yeah, close game, but a loss. Nebraska's defense is just stifling, and their offense will do just enough to win. I think the Gophers will be impressive in the loss, and the days of 84-13 can kiss our ass. 5-2.
October 29th, Iowa: Iowa at home for the second straight year? Sweet! Let's face it, Iowa is a more talented team, at least they were last year. How'd that work out for them again? This year, James Vandenberg replaces Ricki Stanzi, and Darrell Johnson-Koulianos is gone, and he was the only reason Iowa was in that game last year. I'm calling a SECOND rivalry game for the Gophers, and DInkytown goes nuts. On Monday, Reusse calls Gopher President Bruiniks and demands, on the air, that a statue of Kill be erected. Welcome to bowl eligibility with three games to go. 6-2. Oh, WHO HATES IOWA?
November 5th, at Michigan State: I think after the emotional win against Iowa, the Gophers go to East Lansing and get drilled by a team that has their eyes on a BCS bid. So what, they're still going bowling, WOO!! 6-3
November 12th, Wisconsin: Let me say this: if Gopher football ever gets all three trophies in their case in one season, I would expect that the Mayan prophecy about 2012 are, in fact, true, and would plan accordingly. Yes, yes, there's the Governor's Victory Bell with Penn State, but does anyone...In Happy Valley or Dinkytown...care about that trophy? I think the Gophers give the Badgers a good game, but Wisky wins in the end. And I don't have to start digging a doomsday shelter. 6-4.
November 19th, at Northwestern: I think the Gophers offense will be very productive with Gray running the show, but Northwestern's offense is just at a level above almost everyone else in the conference. Minnesota's defense will be better, though, and Northwestern's defense is horrid. I think they squeak out a win. 7-4.
November 26th, Illinois: I think Illinois plays in the B1G conference championship game, because this is a good team, Ron Zook be damned. They'll need a win to secure a spot in Indianapolis, and they win a close game. 7-5.
Holy crap, I just said the Gophers are going 7-5 with the Jug and Floyd in the trophy case at the end of the season.
I don't care, pass the kill-aide.