Ranking the Minnesota Gophers’ 2019 opponents

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Dave Heller
@dave_heller

FOX Sports North

Aug 28, 2019 at 2:31p ET

Coming off a 7-6 season including a bowl win, Minnesota’s 2019 schedule isn’t overly daunting, although there are some interesting teams it’ll face. Read on for our ranking of the Gophers’ 2019 opponents.

12. Oct. 19 at Rutgers

Rutgers won its first game in 2018 … then proceeded to lose the next 11 in a row. The Scarlet Knights return much of the same team – you can decide whether that’s good or bad news. The defense, which allowed 31.4 points per game and 5.7 yards per play, does have a new coordinator in Andy Buh. We’ll see if that helps. The offense has nowhere to go but up after averaging 13.5 points and 4.14 yards per play. QB Artur Sitkowski started 11 games as a true freshman last year and struggled mightily (49.1%, 4 TD, 18 INT). Texas Tech transfer McLane Carter could wrest hold of the job (days before their opener, head coach Chris Ash wasn’t tipping his hand). Either way, the Scarlet Knights will likely rely heavily on RBs Raheem Blackshear (586 yards) and Isaih Pacheco (551 yards). Looks like it’s going to be another long year in Piscataway.

11. Aug. 29 vs. South Dakota State

The Gophers open the season against an FCS opponent, but this isn’t your run-of-the-mill FCS team. The Jackrabbits went 10-3 last season and made the FCS playoffs, advancing to the semifinals. South Dakota State has seven starters returning on both offense and defense from a team which scored 42.5 points per game and allowed 22.3. One player who is gone, though, is quarterback Taryn Christian, who threw for over 3,000 yards in 2018. The Jackrabbits do return standouts RB Pierre Strong (1,149 yards, 11 TDs), RB Mikey Daniel (10 TDs) and WR Cade Johnson (1,332 yards, 17 TD). But how rattled will redshirt freshman QB J’Bore Gibbs be in his collegiate debut? And can a smaller FCS defense stop a potent Minnesota running game? This won’t be a pushover for Minnesota, but this isn’t the worst team the Gophers will face in 2019.

10. Oct. 5 vs. Illinois

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