Aug 31, 2023 - Sports

Your guide to the Gophers 2023 football season

Athan Kaliakmanis throws a pass

Athan Kaliakmanis takes over as starting quarterback this season. Photo: John Fisher/Getty Images

If the 2022 season was a golf shot, the University of Minnesota football team wishes it could have taken a mulligan.

Flashback: The Gophers squandered an easy schedule that could have allowed them to win the Big 10 West for the first time in the division's nine-year history. But they lost winnable games to Purdue and Illinois en route to a 9-4 finish.

State of play: Things will be much tougher for U of M this season, which kicks off Thursday night at 7 at Huntington Bank Stadium against Nebraska.

  • The Gophers will play five teams in the AP Top 25 preseason poll: Michigan (No. 2). Ohio State (No. 3), Wisconsin (No. 19), North Carolina (No. 21) and Iowa (No. 25).
  • Two All-Americans from last year — center John Michael Schmitz and running back Mohamed Ibrahim — have moved on to the NFL.

Yes, but: The Gophers still have plenty of talent on the roster.

  • They have a new starting quarterback, Athan Kaliakmani, who brings more of a running threat to the offense than longtime starter Tanner Morgan.

Players to watch: On offense, Brevyn Spann-Ford is one of the best tight ends in the country.

What they're saying: The Athletic predicts the Gophers will go 6-6 and USA Today projects them to finish third in their division.

Games to circle: Michigan comes to town Oct. 7 for the first time since 2020. The Gophers haven't won the Little Brown Jug since 2014. They've only beaten Michigan twice since 1986.

  • A Nov. 18 matchup at Ohio State will give the Gophers their first chance to beat the Buckeyes since 2000.
  • The regular season finale is a home game against Wisconsin on Nov. 25. Minnesota will try to keep Paul Bunyan's Axe with a third-straight win over the Badgers.

Go deeper: Read the Axios Big 10 preview here


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