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The Minnesota Golden Gophers look to build off of a 9-4 2021 season and turn it into a Big Ten Championship appearance in 2022.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers are entering their sixth season with P.J. Fleck as head coach. They have made it to a bowl game three times during his tenure, and they have won each time.

This past season, they went 9-4 on the year and won the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

But in 2022, the program has more lofty goals, such as making it to the Big Ten Championship Game for the first time in program history. They have never had the chance to do so, but will have to get past what could be a tough West division.

Without further ado, here are the Minnesota Golden Gophers at No. 37 in the FanSided Preseason Top 50 College Football Rankings.

Minnesota football 2021 season in review

Minnesota was looking to rebound from the 2020 season, which was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They finished with a 3-4 record and did not participate in a bowl game.

To start off 2021, Minnesota faced off against the Ohio State Buckeyes. They built up a lead as large as 21-17, but they ultimately lost 45-31. Despite this, Minnesota played their way to a 6-2 record but then lost back-to-back games to Illinois and Iowa. The Golden Gophers did win Paul Bunyan’s Axe in the regular-season finale, defeating Wisconsin.

Minnesota clinched a spot in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, and they picked up the 18-6 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Previewing Minnesota Golden Gophers offense for 2022 season

  • Returning Starters: QB Tanner Morgan, RB Mohamed Ibrahim, WR Dylan Wright, WR Chris Autumn-Bell, WR Daniel Jackson, TE Brevyn Span-Ford, OL Aireontae Ersery, OL Axel Ruschmeyer, OL John Michael Schmitz
  • Newcomers: OL Chuck Filiaga (Michigan), OL Quinn Carroll (Notre Dame)
  • Impact Player: Mohamed Ibrahim

The majority of the offense from last season will be returning for 2022. Perhaps the biggest return was of running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in their opening game against Ohio State. Prior to that, he recorded 163 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 30 carries in that game. Getting him back is huge, considering he logged over 1,000 rushing yards in two seasons.

Also returning is wide receiver Chris Autumn-Bell, who tallied a team-high six touchdown receptions last season.

There are some new faces on the offensive line, both of whom come from big schools. Chuck Filiaga transferred over from Michigan, as did Quinn Carroll from Notre Dame.

Previewing Minnesota Golden Gophers defense for 2022 season
  • Returning Starters: DE Jalen Logan-Redding, NT Trill Carter, DT Deven Eastern, DE Thomas Rush, LB Braelen Oliver, LB Mariano Sori-Marin, LB Donald Willis, CB Justin Walley, S Tyler Nubin, S Jordan Howden
  • Newcomers: CB Ryan Stapp (Abilene Christian), NB Beanie Bishop (Western Kentucky)
  • Impact Player: Tyler Nubin

Returning for Minnesota is defensive end Thomas Rush, who logged 5.5 sacks and 31 total tackles, and safety Tyler Nubin, who recorded a team-high three interceptions and 49 total tackles.

There are some new faces on the defense, including Ryan Stapp of Abilene Christian, and Beanie Bishop of Western Kentucky. Bishop logged 33 total tackles, four defended passes, and three interceptions last season.

Minnesota football player awards watch for 2022 seasonMohamed Ibrahim, Maxwell

The Maxwell award is given to the most outstanding college football player of the year. Ibrahim was named to the watch list. Ibrahim posted 3,003 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns in four years with the Golden Gophers.

John Michael Schmitz, Lombardi/Rimington/Outland

John Michael Schmitz is a standout on the offensive line, and being placed on the watch list for the Outland Trophy, and Lombardi and Rimington awards prove just that. During his college career, Schmitz was named to the All Big Ten Second Team (2021, coaches), All Big Ten Third Team (2021, media), and the Academic All-Big Ten (2018-21).

Mariano Sori-Marin, Butkus

Last year, Mariano Sori-Marin recorded 85 total tackles, three defended passes, and two forced fumbles. He is now on the watch list for the Butkus award for the best linebacker in college football.

Minnesota football biggest game on 2022 schedule

There are plenty of formidable foes on the schedule for the Golden Gophers in 2022. When it comes to the biggest game, it has to be against Wisconsin to end the season. Not only is Paul Bunyan’s Axe on the line, but it could decide whether the Golden Gophers make it to the Big Ten Championship or not, depending on how the rest of the season goes.

Minnesota football best-case scenario

It would be a tremendous success if the Golden Gophers can defeat one of the Michigan State Spartans and Iowa Hawkeyes. If they do so, they can walk into the regular-season finale with a chance to win the West division.

Minnesota football worst-case scenario

Minnesota can not afford to lose to all of the top teams in the division. Of course, that is Iowa, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Nebraska. There are going to be some losses for the Golden Gophers in this group, but to lose all four would be devastating.

Minnesota football 2022 season prediction

The Golden Gophers will be bowl eligible for the 2022 season, but a Big Ten Championship may not be in the cards.

Even though there are winnable games on their schedule such as Rutgers, Western Illinois, and New Mexico State, they will have to play some pretty tough teams. Not only will they have to play their division rivals, but also have to play Michigan State and Penn State. Not to mention that they play Iowa, who they have not defeated since 2014.

Despite this, they will finish the season with a good enough record to put them in bowl game consideration. But it won’t be good enough to become Big Ten champions.

2022 record: 8-4

Minnesota football 2022 bowl game prediction projects that Minnesota will make the Pinstripe Bowl, where they will face the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Coming up: No. 37 UCLA Bruins

Other articles in this series:

  • No. 39 Fresno State
  • No. 40 Kansas State
  • No. 41 South Carolina
  • No. 42 Boston College
  • No. 43 Louisville
  • No. 44 Auburn
  • No. 45 Appalachian State
  • No. 46 Coastal Carolina
  • No. 47 UCF
  • No. 48 Maryland
  • No. 49 Iowa State
  • No. 50 Nebraska
Next: College Football Rankings: FanSided Preseason Top 50

For more NCAA football news, analysis, opinion and unique coverage by FanSided, including Heisman Trophy and College Football Playoff rankings, be sure to bookmark these pages.


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Tags: on the watch list college football rankings a big ten championship on the offensive line three interceptions minnesota football rushing yards abilene christian season prediction college football western kentucky was named football player michigan state total tackles returning returning west division impact player have to play biggest game despite this season a team high last season all big ten a bowl game good enough the biggest carolina no

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High School Sports | Preseason all-Bay Area News Group high school football 2022: Defensive backs


(Listed in alphabetical order)

Joseph Bey, Serra, 5-11, 170, junior

All-Bay Area News Group honorable mention last season. Three-star prospect with offers from Arizona State, Pittsburg and San Jose State, according to 247Sports.

Robin Boyd, Pittsburg, 5-11, 170, senior

The three-star player might not find stronger competition than he sees in practice, defending a foursome of wide receiver prospects on the Pittsburg roster.

Anthony Delguidice, James Logan, 5-10, 155, senior

Received honorable mention recognition from the Bay Area News Group in 2021. Should be a defensive leader this fall as Logan aims for another league championship.

Daniel Escorza, Wilcox, 5-4, 140, senior

A three-year starter at free safety, he led the Chargers in tackles last season as the Santa Clara school nearly captured a state championship. 

Jacob Gastrock, Mt. Eden, 5-6, 150, senior

Shutdown cornerback received high praise from his coach, Paul Perenon, who said, “Literally no one attempts to throw on him. For good reason. He is a superb ‘cover’ corner and had one of the top 5 plays in the NCS last season: a 101-yard ‘pick 6’ vs Piedmont.”

Nah’Shon Geeston-Vick, McClymonds, 6-2, 175, senior

A two-way standout at defensive back and receiver should make an impact at his new school. He played at Encinal last season and was recognized as an honorable mention selection on the all-Bay Area News Group team. 

Emmanuel Karnley, Las Lomas, 6-3, 185 senior

All-league player as a junior last season. Rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports. Has offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Washington, among others.

Journey McKoy, De La Salle, 5-11, 165, senior

Nevada commit is a jack of all trades for the Spartans. Lined up at multiple positions last season and will do so again this fall. “One of the fastest players and one of best athletes on the team,” coach Justin Alumbaugh said.

Philip Miller, Bellarmine, 5-7, 160, senior

Plays defense, offense and special teams for fast-improving Bellarmine. “We anticipate Philip, who is entering his third year on Varsity, to have a big role on our team in all 3 phases of the game,” coach Jalal Beauchman said.

Caleb Padrid, San Ramon Valley, 5-10, 180, senior

First-team all-league defensive back and a leader on the defense for the Wolves. Rated a two-star player by 247Sports.

Johno Price, Menlo-Atherton, 6-2, 172, senior

Described as a Swiss Army knife by M-A coach Chris Saunders. Played every position in the defensive secondary as a junior. Expected to play free safety and wide receiver this fall. “His football IQ is his biggest strength,” Saunders said.

Emilio Pucci, Northgate, 5-11, 202, senior

Named the Diablo Athletic League Valley Division defensive MVP in 2021. Will face stronger competition this fall as Northgate moves up to the league’s Foothill Division. Two-star prospect, per 247Sports.

Richard Salazar, Santa Teresa, 6-1, 155, senior

Someone coach Steve Papin will depend on in the defensive secondary this season for the Saints. “Richard has great instincts and cover skills,” Papin said. “Tall and fast DB.”

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Warren Smith, El Cerrito, 6-2, 175, senior

Washington State commit and three-star prospect received honorable mention recognition last season by the Bay Area News Group.

Lloyd Walter, Aragon, 6-1, 185, senior

Strong safety is entering his fourth year as a starter for the San Mateo school. Also plays wide receiver. “Dominant player on defense who will be featured more in the offense this year,” coach Steve Sell said.

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