By Joe Coughlin
Minnesota played a Big 12 team in a bowl game last year, and it almost won! (The Gophers took a 34-31 loss to Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.)
The Gophers aren't exciting, but they are mentally strong under coach Jerry Kill. That leads to wins when they should win, including four on the nonconference schedule. Only two Big Ten wins made sense, against Illinois and Purdue.
With no big things happening in Minnesota, there's no reason to believe things will be any different — except the schedule. The schedule has less room for error for Minnesota as there's no Illinois and no Purdue. The only winnable games left are home against Iowa (Sept. 28) and on the road against Indiana (Nov. 2).
The first is the most imporant and without it, Minnesota won't get to a bowl.
Prediction: Iowa comes back with a mini resurgence in 2013, maybe six wins and a bowl game. That means a win against Minnesota as well.