The Minnesota Golden Gophers created a large ruckus in the Big Ten with their 7-1 record in November, but then hit a slope that had the Gophers end the season with a 7-5 record, losing to Northwestern, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa, all but one being or becoming bowl eligible.
Throughout the season, this Gophers team showed flaws and holes a plenty, but they got the wins when they needed. Yes, the teams they beat were the very talented group of Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Montana State, and Florida Atlantic, but they got the wins nonetheless.
This Minnesota team shows the country the weakness of the Big Ten, especially when it comes to the weak out-of-conference schedule. The Golden Gophers needed this season so they could open their new stadium on a good note, but unless they do some serious reconstruction on the roster, they will falter next season, as well.
They will need to depend on Hayo Carpenter to be a fresh welcome to the receiving corps and fellow four-star prospect Hasan Lipscomb to tear up the field from the backfield.
Wisconsin was the let down of the season for the Big Ten. Preseason polls had the Badgers at No. 12 and they saw themselves climbing to No. 8 when they played Michigan, but then they dropped to 7-5 for the season and were dominated by Florida State in the Citrus Bowl.
The lack of consistency coming from the quarterback position was key to the performance this lackluster team produced. PJ Hill did what he could by running for over 1,000 yards this season.
Fortunately, Wisconsin can run Hill next year, but it has this young Montee Ball, who committed out of Missouri and, at 205 pounds with a 40 of 4.5 seconds, he provide a similar complement to Hill as the New York Football Giants' running plan, with a bruiser (Hill) and a speed demon (Ball). They will need work, but during spring games we will know if Wisconsin will be a team to beat next season.
Iowa, the Hawkeyes shocked the country with their upset of the No. 3 Nittany Lions in early November and took that win to ride into the Outback Bowl and face South Carolina.
This Hawkeye team must use this season to fuel bait to potential recruits last season this Hawkeye team showed a one dimension offensive attack, more of a “give the ball to Greene” mentality with Shonn Greene getting the ball nearly 300 times for just 1,700 yards.
They need to become well-rounded and four-star prospect Kennan Davis might be the one offensive weapon they can use to balance out Shonn Greene’s attack and become more dominant on the field, that is if Greene decides to stay in college football since he is eligible to enter the draft this spring.