P.J. Fleck’s second season is expected to be anything but smooth when it comes to the Gophers’ record, but apparently the Minnesota coach has one thing going for him.
CBS Sports, using a formula that includes a variety of factors, calls the Gophers’ schedule the easiest of the 14 teams in the Big Ten.
Here’s what CBS wrote: Both Illinois and Iowa have FCS opponents, which dragged their schedules down. Minnesota does not, yet it still managed to finish last in these rankings. It’s thanks in large part to a nonconference schedule that includes New Mexico State, Fresno State and Miami (Ohio) all at home. In B1G play, the Gophers get Iowa, Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern at home, and have road trips against Maryland, Ohio State, Nebraska, Illinois and Wisconsin. So it won’t be easy, but compared to their Big Ten brethren, it might be easier than others.
CBS’ Tom Fornelli included factors such as the five-year history of teams, whether teams are coming off bye weeks and if games are at home or on the road. Obviously, the Gophers getting all three of their nonconference teams at TCF Bank Stadium is a big help.
The Gophers, however, aren’t expected to be much better this season after going 5-7 overall and 2-7 in the Big Ten in Fleck’s first year. Part of the issue remains the instability the program has at the quarterback position.
So while the thought of having the most favorable — or weakest — schedule in the conference might be nice, don’t get your hopes up.