Minnesota Football: Should Gophers be optimistic after loss to Ohio State?

Despite losing their season opener, should the Minnesota football team let its confidence waiver at all?

The short answer to that question is no. The Gophers may have lost their opening game to the Ohio State Buckeyes (and by a rather convincing margin at that). However, there are still a lot of positives for them to remember throughout the course of their upcoming matchups.

Looking at how the affair itself unfolded, the first note to make was that it was almost exclusively offensive. This was mainly due to the game’s final tally of 45-31, sitting the total amount of points scored at an exciting 76.

Considering both the elite nature of Ohio State’s 2020 squad and the fact that this was each school’s inaugural game of the season, such an over-the-top score was borderline unusual to sight.

But despite being on the losing end of it all, Minnesota football fans have to acknowledge that their team’s performance against the Buckeyes was just as impressive, if not more so than any that they had seen last year (unless overtime wins over subpar foes are phenomena that really blow the everyday mind).

Losing a good fight to a program that the country knows as powerful does not necessarily mean that winning is on the horizon, though; it was a loss, after all. The only sign that could point to that is the list of names that the Golden Gophers have to face in the near future.

What’s next for Minnesota football

Looking at the rest of their schedule, Minnesota football definitely has its fair share of pushovers coming up. Some of these weaklings include home games versus Miami (OH) and Bowling Green, while a visit to the Pac-12’s Colorado Buffaloes could potentially go either way.

And as far as conference opponents are concerned, the bulk of them are either in favor of the Gophers or in no clear favor at all.

Think about it: if Minnesota football ends up playing Purdue, Nebraska, Maryland, and Illinois all as formidably as they did OSU, how could they possibly be dealt a loss by any of them?

The same question goes for Northwestern, Indiana, and Wisconsin (folks can rank the Badgers wherever they wish, but 2020 was not a good look for them, and that is why they find themselves with this clique).

In fact, only one Big Ten adversary stands out as a clear-cut favorite over the Golden Gophers, and that is the Iowa Hawkeyes. The latter, unlike names such as Northwestern and Indiana, was good in 2020 without it feeling like a fluke. Also, the Hawkeyes will face Minnesota on their home turf of Kinnick Stadium, which is one of the toughest college football territories to visit.

Allowing the Ohio State loss, along with defeats to Iowa and perhaps two others, the Gophers would still be a prominent force in the Big Ten Conference, donning a regular-season record of 8-4 entering the postseason slate.

If such a prediction turns out to be the reality, then the 2021 Minnesota squad will certainly not be breaking an abundance of school records. However, a strong offense and winnable schedule can combine for them to see quite an improvement from the sophomore slump that they had the season prior.