Gophers to Open Season in Saturday Night Primetime

Photo: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

On October 24, the Minnesota Golden Gophers open up their 2020 8-game season vs the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday night primetime, in front of what will likely be one of the biggest audiences for any college football game over the weekend. On the line is one of the most legendary rivalry trophies in the nation, The Little Brown Jug.

According to the team release, the Gophers are 8-3 in primetime games under PJ Fleck and this is the 5th game in a row that they’ve played on national TV. Four of those games have been on network television. The Outback Bowl game vs Auburn was on ESPN.

This primetime game wasn’t all we found out from this morning’s announcement. We also know the Gophers will play THREE Friday night games during this 2020 season. The first one will be week 2, on the road vs Maryland. Then on Friday, November 13, Minnesota will host Iowa at TCF Bank Stadium before welcoming Purdue on Friday night, one week later (Nov. 20). Of course, the Gophers are 6-0 in non-Saturday games under Fleck.

The Minnesota Gophers climbed up and into both major poll rankings yesterday, where they will likely stay for week 1’s primetime matchup vs Michigan. It will be the first time in AP Poll history (since 1936) that the Gophers will open as a ranked team, vs a ranked team.

Gameday at Opener?

If ESPN were smart (they aren’t), they’d bring their “College Gameday” set to Dinky Town on Saturday morning, October 24. I haven’t had a lot of time to dig into it but someone on Twitter told me their biggest competition is Tennessee vs Alabama. Normally, that’d be enough to kill our chances but Gameday just scheduled their October 17 appearance to be in Tuscaloosa for Alabama vs Georgia.

While it would certainly be a different experience than what we saw in 2019, having Gameday on campus for week 1 would be pretty incredible.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan