Minnesota football schedule 2013: Dates, toughest opponents and more

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Can Jerry Kill get the Gophers back into the middle tier of the Big Ten? It's going to be difficult against this schedule.

It's year three under Jerry Kill at Minnesota, with mixed results so far. The good news: Minnesota made its first bowl game in three seasons last year, a surprise trip to the Meineke Car Care Bowl after a 6-6 campaign. The bad news: that 6-6 record included a third-straight 2-6 Big Ten finish and a last-place position in the Legends division. It has now been a decade since Minnesota last posted a winning record in conference play, and there is little to indicate that the Gophers' inauspicious streak will end soon.

2013 Minnesota schedule

Date Opponent Conf. Projected ranking

8/29/2013 UNLV MWC 107

9/7/2013 at New Mexico State WAC 123

9/14/2013 Western Illinois FCS

9/21/2013 San Jose State MWC 68

9/28/2013 Iowa Big 10 40

10/5/2013 at Michigan Big 10 28

10/12/2013 Open date

10/19/2013 at Northwestern Big 10 35

10/26/2013 Nebraska Big 10 20

11/2/2013 at Indiana Big 10 62

11/9/2013 Penn State Big 10 22

11/16/2013 Open date

11/23/2013 Wisconsin Big 10 14

11/30/2013 at Michigan State Big 10 18

12/7/2013 Big Ten Championship

Date Opponent Conf. Projected ranking

Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.

Minnesota faces three western programs in non-conference play, including the road leg of a home-and-home with New Mexico State. It should be a fairly straightforward slate for the Gophers, as UNLV and NMSU appear destined to continue floundering and San Jose State replaces the most successful coach in program history. While the program has a history of dropping games to FCS opponents, Western Illinois is coming off a 3-8 season and doesn't have the pedigree of the Dakota schools that usually give the Gophers fits.

Big Ten play starts with the battle for Floyd of Rosedale, a game that has been won in three consecutive seasons by the team that ends the year with the worse record. Minnesota's Leaders division crossovers -- Penn State and Indiana, along with their annual meeting with Wisconsin -- could certainly be better. The November slate is particularly brutal, with home games against the Nittany Lions and Badgers before a season finale road trip to East Lansing. Still, the soft non-conference schedule and Big Ten games against Iowa, Indiana, and Northwestern give the Gophers an outside chance of again reaching bowl eligibility. Anything beyond that could be a bridge too far for Kill's team.

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