You'd think Minnesota would drop some spots because of the departure of quarterback Philip Nelson, who will transfer to Rutgers. That's not the case here.
Yes, Nelson had his fair share of inconsistencies last season, but he was at one point considered a kid with a lot of promise. With Nelson gone, though, Mitch Leidner jumps into the Gophers' starting quarterback spot.
"He’s been awesome," offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said of Leidner to Joe Christensen of the Star-Tribune. "I think Mitch looks at himself as the starter, and the undisputed leader of the offense, and probably the team. And so there’s a confidence about him. He’s the guy holding other guys accountable."
Leidner will have a great safety net with tight end Maxx Williams, one of the best receivers at his position anywhere in the country.
The Gophers defense, which ranked fourth in the Big Ten in points allowed, should be solid again with guys like senior linebacker Damien Wilson.
Minnesota may not win the West Division, but Jerry Kill's team is going to have a shot and will upset a team or two in the process.