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2023 Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Preview: Schedule, Record Predictions, Games

Celebrating fried foods at the Great Minnesota Fret-Together: How will the Gophers screw it up THIS time?

The rarest of sights at the Great Minnesota Get-Together: a Gopher football rivalry trophy!

As a resident and native Minnesotan, I still get that tingle as we approach the last Saturday in August—I prepare myself to be really annoyed by people, spend way too much money, and listen to passersby bloviate about everything from the weather to their complaints with how “the youth” do things.

Am I talking about Minnesota football or the Minnesota State Fair? You decide.

The latter, at least, features a bunch of new and exciting foods that, each year in Minnesota, becomes fodder for the nightly news, drive-time FM radio, and eager Facebook shares, and for our Minnesota Predictions Potluck I think it’s best we start with the fattening fare, because things are going to get grim as November approaches.

The Great Minnesota Get-Together

Your state fair is fine. No, really! I’m sure it is.

It’s not Minnesota’s.

Spanning 322 acres of Art Deco-style and Works Progress Administration-built grounds, the Great Minnesota Get-Together attracts around two million people a year. That’s second pre-COVID only to Texas, who pipped the North Star state with 2.5 million visitors in 2022 with a population over five times Minnesota’s and a fair that lasts twice as long.

More important than that quintessential Minnesotan insecurity is that annual list of new foods released by the fair—linked here, in slideshow form below:

Easy questions here, writers:

1. Minnesota State Fair—have you, and are you a fair person in general or no?

2. You may tell us about as many of those thirty-two foods you would eat as you would like, but you MUST pick your favorite from the list.

BoilerUp89: I have never been to the Minnesota state fair. Or any state fair. Or any county fair. Nor do I have any burning desire to do so.

I went to Catholic parish festivals and 4 different Oktoberfest celebrations growing up - which while not the same - have filled the fair void in my life. I have no desire to look at farm animals or whatever you all do at state fairs.

Since I have to pick a food, I'll go with the Galabao. No, I will not defend my pick.

misdreavus79: I have not been to the Minnesota state fair, as I’ve never been to Minnesota. I’m sure I’ve been to some state fair in Pennsylvania at some point in my life. Most definitely not here.

I’mma be honest boss I did not look at any of those foods so I can’t tell you which one is my favorite.

...then I felt bad and looked at the pictures and that lobster fries thing looks pretty good.

RUReady4Brazil: The Minnesota state fair has never appeared on my calendar, but I have been to the New Jersey State Fair. One time I was in Vancouver, Canada for the PNE which was interesting. And when I lived in California, was a regular at the Alameda County Fair and Almond Blossom Festival so that makes me a fair person under certain circumstances.

The cookie dough pie is a strong contender but the Italian Duo is something I would also consume immediately. One day when I was about 28 I decided I no longer will mess around with weirdo desserts. The sweetest, most chocolatey item I see will be the choice. For example, for anyone who knows what brigadeiro is, there is nothing more to say to illustrate my point.

Kind of...: Never been to Minnesota State Fair, but have been to plenty of fairs. Fairs are generally cool in my book. Basically 80% cool; 20% ridiculous. I don’t really care about new deep-fried foods, though. As I become more and more curmudgeonly, just give me a mini-donut stand and I’ll be happy.

MNW: As this will likely be my Week 0 DWT;WT content, I feel an obligation to hit as many of these as I can. I am most intrigued by the Crispy Lutefisk Steam Bun and the Galabao, but the Cheese Curd-stuffed Pretzel is the one I’m going to demolish like I demolished that Chessie back in 2017.


Which Minnesota State Fair food looks best?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    (12 votes)
  • 46%
    Cheese Curd-Stuffed Pretzel
    (64 votes)
  • 7%
    Honey Hamloaf Breakfast Sandwich
    (10 votes)
  • 5%
    Lutefisk Steam Bun
    (8 votes)
  • 18%
    Loaded Lobster Fries
    (26 votes)
  • 2%
    One of those pickle things
    (3 votes)
  • 10%
    Something else (tell us in the comments!)
    (15 votes)
138 votes total Vote Now

The Great Minnesota Fret-Together

Ah, and now it’s time for something Minnesotans enjoy infinitely less: how the Gophers football season winds up.

Before we get there, though—it’s a fun start to the year for Minnesota, and it almost always is: since moving into TCIF-cum-Huntington Bank Stadium, the Gophers have played their home opener on Thursday night of Week 1, in part to account for the State Fair traffic and parking situation (remote Gopher football parking makes use of a few State Fair lots).

The tradition began in fine form, with a 51-23 romp over a bowl-bound UNLV team in 2013, but has given us a few interesting games since. In order:

  • 2014: def. Eastern Illinois, 42-20
  • 2015: L, #2 TCU, 23-17
  • 2016: def. Oregon State, 30-23
  • 2017: def. Buffalo, 17-7
  • 2018: def. New Mexico State, 48-10
  • 2019: def. (FCS #3) South Dakota State, 28-21
  • 2021: L, #4 Ohio State, 45-31
  • 2022: def. New Mexico State, 38-0

That’s not a bad list, and it’ll keep up for a while with North Carolina visiting in 2024.

Of course, that leaps over this year’s blockbuster, a 7pm showdown with the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Overall it’s a frisky run for the Gophers this year: a non-conference that includes a visit from future Northwestern HC Chris Creighton and the MACtion-toting EMUs, a September afternoon game in the Chapel Hill heat, and a home game with not-your-2000s-Louisiana.

Pivot to the Big Ten, and the Gophers could find themselves in the catbird seat of the Big Ten West, having gotten a green Matt Rhule and the smoking wreckage of the Patrick Fitzgerald out of the way before the calendar flips to October. Then, right as KFAN starts to devote a whole two minutes to Gophers football each day, Minnesota hits the meat of its schedule: a visit from Michigan. A trip to Iowa for an eighth straight Pig Loss. Home dates with tricky outs in Michigan State and Illinois, then at Purdue, at Ohio State, and home against who-knows-what wisconsin will be by then.

That’s a helluva run-in, and one that might give us an idea of whether the PJ Fleck-led Gophers will ever be anything other than the bridesmaid. So, writers:

1. The Gophers blew it, right? 2022 was The Year—until it wasn’t? Shame them a little bit.

2. How do you see Minnesota finishing, record- and standings-wise, in 2023? Show your work.

3. Describe, if you’d like, your ideal Week 0 or Week 1 traditions and/or matchup Go nuts.

BoilerUp89: I'll save my shaming of the rest of the Big Ten until Big Ten West champion celebration week. But yes, the Gophers had the same opportunity that Purdue did (which is why the two were 1-2 in my preseason rankings last year). A bad wisconsin and Nebraska. Iowa and Illinois squads without offenses. And most importantly, no crossover games with Michigan or Ohio State.

7-5. Losses to Michigan, OSU, Iowa, and two of wisconsin, Illini, Nebraska, Purdue, and UNC.

My ideal Purdue week 1 opponent is Cincinnati. Because I live in Cincinnati. And would enjoy not having to drive all that far to see the Boilers once every two years. On a side note, the Boilermakers would also have home and home series until infinity with Xavier and UC in basketball every year if I was AD. More importantly, I would restore the Purdue - ND series but I don't think that should be a week 1 game.


  1. I was made to believe that Kirk 2.0 was going to be amazing and great, and it kind of was for a bit, but, like, if you’re going to claim that Ciarrocca was the scapegoat for 2020 don’t lose 45-17 to the coach that fired you for having a shitty offense (blah blah blah he hired him in the first place whatever). So yeah, I think Minnesota missed a golden opportunity to finally win the West in 2022, and they have to be kicking themselves for it.
  2. As per 2023, I legitimately don’t know what to expect. Let’s assume Ohio State and Michigan are both losses, that leaves you the entire West slate and Michigan State to deal with. If they can sweep, they wouldn’t be the first West team to lose to the Big Boys in the East and still make the championship game. Maybe Minnesota has a little bit of 2016 Wisconsin in them, which means they’ll face Penn State in the championship game, so that’s what I’m going with. 10-2.
  3. There was that one time Penn State played UCF in Ireland. That would be the kind of game I’d like to see on a week 0.


  1. The Gopher defense was elite, but unlike Iowa, didn’t win any games totally on their own. Kirk wasn’t amazing, but most other OC in the country couldn’t have got what he did out of that offensive personnel. So you’re welcome for overpaying to take Kirk of your hands, I guess? I watched more than a half of two Gopher games all year, Penn State and Rutgers (who decided to turn back the clock to 2018 Art Sitkowski level offense). Both showed the same weaknesses that victimized Minnesota in their losses; wide receivers not doing much of anything, repeated third and short opportunities that could only be converted by Mo Ibrahim, and a pass defense that benefitted from some atrocious opposing quarterback play. Looking at it, Tommy DeVito who was run out of town in Syracuse, was the third best quarterback you faced all year and you only went 9-4 including getting doubled up in yardage but still beating that same Orange squad in the bowl game?
  2. Every year, Minnesota is the toughest team for me to predict, this is no different. That crossover slate is absolutely brutal with Ohio State and Michigan guaranteed losses, anything from 10-2 down to 2-10 is possible. At North Carolina is not ideal, but with three families from my neighborhood alone driving up 85 for fan support, that could be a win depending on QB play. EMU and UL are probably both better than that Bowling Green team that stymied Fleck (a rare misstep in a game they should win), so Northwestern is probably the closest to a gimme on the schedule. For now I’ll assume those three wins and three losses, and the other six toss-ups including Nebraska (see #3 below). Gophers win 23 because I do like their quarterback play and finish 7-5.
  3. Seeing Nebraska in Week One is possibly the worst time to face them with so many unknowns, but as a fan of another team I will definitely be tuned in. Generally, I would prefer Rutgers plays a team like Penn State or even an Iowa type in the first week because its a crapshoot and the best chance to steal a victory especially against teams that traditionally need tie to get their offenses going. Seeing Christian Hackenberg getting sacked by a two man rush against Temple will never get old. In short, I would want the best team on paper I could possibly beat in that first week, then follow up with a patsy in Week 2. Rutgers - Penn State Week 1 every year, I would accept even if it means rarely if ever winning the opener.

Kind of...:

  1. As a UW fan, I don’t want to miss a chance to shame Minnesota, but Minnesota didn’t blow it last year. They just weren’t the best team in the division. They had a bye week after the loss to Purdue and...they got dominated in Champaign. If anybody blew it last year, it was Illinois. But Minnesota did blow it in 2021. Sitting a 4-1 in B1G play, they lost at home to a clearly inferior Illinois team, then largely outplayed Iowa in Iowa City, but settled for too many FGs. But yeah, Minnesota had their chances, flinched and now it’s probably not gonna happen for them.
  2. Peej does a pretty good job of not losing bad games, so the tougher schedule doesn’t mean the bottom is going to fall out. But, yeah, it’s tougher. Let’s be unoriginal: 7-5/5-4. And UW is beating them this year. Book it.

MNW: I’m gonna disagree with misdreavus—I didn’t care for the Ireland thing, at least not in its current format. I want BREAKFAST FOOTBALL, not brunch football. Play it at 9am on FOX if you’re going to subject us to that.

As Northwestern will likely not be doing anything fun for the foreseeable future, though, that’s probably moot. I thought the Australia series that Cal and Stanford did a few years back was pretty neat, and I’m surprised there hasn’t been a game in Japan since the last Coca-Cola Classic, featuring Wisconsin and Michigan State in 1993. Bring those back, IMO, so we get a 9am kick for Notre Dame-Navy in Ireland and a 10:30pm kick for Stanford-Hawai’i in Melbourne.

Two losses in the crossover, a loss to Iowa, and your standard Minnesota dicktrip against Purdue or Illinois gives us 5-4. Will Minnesota survive that non-conference? Eh. 7-5 (5-4) feels right to me.


In the Big Ten in 2023, Minnesota goes...

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    3-6 or worse
    (17 votes)
  • 19%
    (52 votes)
  • 34%
    (93 votes)
  • 25%
    (70 votes)
  • 9%
    (25 votes)
  • 5%
    I’ve been drinking
    (15 votes)
272 votes total Vote Now


Overall, in 2023, Minnesota goes...

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    4-8 or worse
    (11 votes)
  • 2%
    (8 votes)
  • 12%
    (35 votes)
  • 33%
    (93 votes)
  • 25%
    (70 votes)
  • 13%
    (36 votes)
  • 5%
    (14 votes)
  • 3%
    I have a REAL problem
    (9 votes)
276 votes total Vote Now