P.J. Fleck Show: Previewing the 2020 Gopher football season

We’re less than two weeks away from the start of college football in the Big Ten, which means the P.J. Fleck Show is back on the air on Fox 9!

The University of Minnesota football team will kick off its 2020 schedule on Saturday, Oct. 24, hosting Michigan at TCF Bank Stadium. It will be a match-up of top 25 teams as the Gophers are currently ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press Top 25. The Wolverines are ranked No. 19.

There’s nothing normal about the 2020 football season. The Gophers will play eight regular season Big Ten games, then play a ninth against the East Division team that finishes in the same spot they do. The hopes are the Gophers, coming off their best season in 115 years, are playing for the Big Ten title right before Christmas.

This week, Hobie Artigue, Ron Johnson and KFAN’s Justin Gaard preview the 2020 season.

The Gophers are tasked with replacing four starters on offense, but bring back Big Ten Receiver of the Year Rashod Bateman, who was cleared by the NCAA to return after opting out before the season was in doubt due to COVID-19 concerns.

On defense, the Gophers will feature plenty of new faces with seven starters from last year gone. They’ll rely on the likes of linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin, Jordan Howden and Benjamin St. Juste in the secondary and a stout line that includes Esezi Otomewu, Boye Mafe and Micah Dew-Treadway.

Predictions for the season

So what will the Gophers do this season? Ron Johnson says they’ll go minimum 7-1, and Justin Gaard predicts they’ll win all their trophy games (Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin) and should contend for the Big Ten West title.

Breakout players

Who will be the breakout players for the Gophers in 2020? Ron Johnson thinks Chris Autman-Bell is poised for a big season, being the No. 2 receiver to Rashod Bateman. Justin Gaard says it’s a potentially a big year for Brevyn Spann-Ford at tight end, and Hobie Artigue picks veteran safety Jordan Howden to be an impact player on defense. Howden got the game-sealing interception against Penn State last season.

Football in Dinkytown is less than two weeks away.