Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Details
The Golden Gophers have won seven national titles (1904, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941, 1960) and 18 conference titles in program history. And while this team hasn’t necessarily been relevant in national title conversations in recent years, that could change in the not-too-distant future. Minnesota made a splashy hire after the 2016 season, as the university landed P.J. Fleck as its new head coach. Fleck was previously at Western Michigan, where he turned a 1-11 team in 2013 into an 11-1 team in 2016. He left the Broncos with a 30-22 record and did the impossible task of leading Western Michigan to a New Year’s Six game (2016 Cotton Bowl vs. Wisconsin). Fleck brings an unrivaled amount of charisma to the sideline, and has made headlines with his motivational catchphrase, “Row the Boat.” If there’s one thing that is a guarantee with Fleck, it’s that fans will once again be excited to be in TCF Bank Stadium.
Minnesota might not have a flashy style of play, but this team does two things well: run the ball and defend the run. As long as the Golden Gophers are doing those things, the team is going to find itself in games. The catalyst of the running game is junior Rodney Smith. Smith ran for 1,158 yards with 16 touchdowns in 2016, and it’s hard to imagine the team not feeding him at least 20 times per game this season. His ability to run the ball will wear opposing defenses down, but it will also keep his defense fresh. That’s important because P.J. Fleck will want nothing to change from the rushing defense he inherited. The Golden Gophers allowed just 1,493 yards on the ground last season (19th in the country), and they look to be just as good in that regard this year.