Oct 13, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Minnesota Golden Gophers linebacker Mike Rallis (26) and linebacker Keanon Cooper (4) tackles Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter (2) after making a catch in the third quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. The Wildcats won 21-13. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
In May, the Big Ten Conference announced their 2014 and 2015 football schedules and Gophers fans cringed at the thought of playing a “Murderers’ Row” lineup that included Michigan and Ohio State. The conference announced their 2016 and 2017 schedules Thursday and University of Minnesota football fans should be pleased by the disappearance of both those schools in 2016.
Though the Buckeyes and Wolverines are gone for one future season, that does not mean that the always tough Big Ten will be a cakewalk for Minnesota. In 2016, the Gophers will get their first regular season chance against Rutgers and Maryland within the conference. They will actually get the two East Coast schools on back to back weeks with Minnesota traveling to College Park, Maryland. on Oct. 15 and then hosting the Scarlet Knights on Oct. 22.
Other highlights on the 2016 schedule include home games versus Iowa, Purdue, and Northwestern. With a tougher road schedule at Penn State, Illinois, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. This gives Minnesota a nine game conference regular season schedule for the first time since 1984.
Michigan comes back on the schedule in 2017 and the Gophers will travel to Ann Arbor for a date in the Big House on Nov. 4. The Maroon and Gold will also welcome the Terrapins of Maryland to TCF Bank Stadium for the first time when they open the conference schedule on Sept. 30.
The absent team from the 2016 schedule that appears the following year is Michigan State. The Spartans will roll into Minneapolis on Oct. 14 for a clash with the Golden Gophers.
In Other News…
- The 2013 Nike Elite Youth Basketball Finals kicked off Thurs. at the Peach Jam Tournament in North Augusta, S.C. One of the top summer basketball tournaments for high school age players has coaches and recruiters from across the globe watching some of the games best prospects. That includes Minnesota prep standouts Tyus Jones, Reid Travis, Rashad Vaughn, and J.P. Macura. The Lakeville, Minn. native Macura, picked up an offer from the Golden Gophers Thurs. as coach Richard Pitino and his staff were front row center for the tournament. Amelia Rayno from the Minneapolis Star Tribune caught up with the Lakeville North HS hoopster recently.
- It was announced Wednesday in front of the Univ. of Minnesota Board of Regents that the Minnesota Athletic Department is looking to undergo a multi-phase construction project to improve facilities across the Gophers’ campus. Phase one of the plan is estimated to cost $190 million and completely renovate the current Bierman Athletic area of Dinkytown. The plan presented by Athletic Director Norwood Teague would incorporate an “athletes village” type feel to the area. This would include the long debated basketball indoor practice facilities, a new state-of-the-art football complex, an academic center, a cafeteria-style training table, and many other amenities for almost all sports.
- Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune calls the plan “as audacious as the AD himself” in a column he wrote Thursday.
- If you are not aware, former Gophers hockey player Nick Leddy is currently the holder of the Stanley Cup and will bring the cup and his posse to Mariucci Arena on campus for a public ceremony at 4:00 p.m. CT on Friday.
- Senior defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman will wear a one-of-a-kind face mask that should make quarterbacks and any interior lineman run in terror this upcoming offseason.