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Friday, June 21, 2013
Minnesota fans make non-league picks

By Adam Rittenberg

Last week, we asked you to pick the nonconference opponent you'd most like to see your favorite team play in the near future. You could pick a team already on the upcoming schedule or one that inexplicably hasn't been added.

The response so far has been great. If your team hasn't been featured so far (the list of teams is at the bottom of this post), please make sure to send us your picks here and here, and be sure to identify your Big Ten allegiance and why you're picking a certain nonconference foe.

Minnesota fans had thoughts on the Gophers' future nonconference opponents. Here are some of them.

Ryan from St. Paul, Minn.: As a Minnesota alum, I'd love to see the Gophers take on Notre Dame. Minnesota plays most of the teams in the Midwest anyway, why not schedule a home-and-home with Notre Dame down the road? Both teams have a rich football history. Golden Gophers vs. Golden Domers? Yes, please! I'd also like to see Minnesota vs. Missouri. I think Missouri would have a been a better fit instead of Rutgers for recent Big Ten expansion, so why not let them get a taste of Big Ten football while they 'sublet' in SEC country for the time being.

Paul from Delano, Minn.: I am a die-hard Minnesota Golden Gophers fan and I would like to see us play Alabama. Both teams claim the 1934 and 1941 national championships so, we can settle who the rightful champions once and for all. The rules are that the game must be played under 6 feet of snow at TCF Bank Stadium and Alabama can only use players remaining from their 1934 and 1941 seasons. Then maybe my gophers can win.

Geoff from Minneapolis: Gopher fan and alum here. I would like to see Minnesota play both Arizona and Stanford in home and home series. Couple us reasons for this. Historically, all three are almost equal winning percentage wise. Selfishly, I attended U of A for a couple years and have not been back since. Would love to see the Wildcats up here and make the trek down to Tucson. As for Stanford, I have family nearby and would like to see a game out there (I also went to the Cal game out there years back). Also, they would be a strong test as of now. Gotta upgrade that schedule. I would also like to see us play North Carolina. Oh, um, never mind.

Carl from St. Paul, Minn.: As a longtime Minnesota Golden Gopher fan I would like to see Notre Dame. I think the game would create a lot of buzz around the area and be a great match up.

Tom from Minnesota: I am a Minnesota fan and though it would be cool to see a marquee matchup like Alabama, Texas, or Florida, I believe I should be more realistic. I think it would be cool to match up with Iowa St. Another match up I would like to continue to see is North Dakota St. because of the large amount of alums in the area, but will not happen because of the Big Tens new no FCS policy.

Jesse from Minneapolis: Hey Adam - one major non-conference opponent that I think Minnesota could play more often would be Syracuse. Although we have only played the Orange four times, each game has been quite exciting to watch (especially last season under the lights). I think Syracuse offers a pretty good match-up for the Gophers and their profile should definitely get a boost after joining the ACC this summer. Another team that came up to mind would be Iowa State. Historically the Gophers have had a rivalry with the Cyclones in the early part of the 20th century, but we've only managed to play them four times in the last 25 years. I know ISU has more on their plate already playing 9-game conference schedule as B1G member Iowa, but wouldn't it be cool if the Minnesota crushed both the Herky and Cy to claim themselves the 'King of Iowa?'

Craig from Braintree, Mass.: Living here in Massachusetts, I would like to see the Gophers come out here so I could see them. Therefore, I would like to have them play Boston College and Harvard in a home-and-home series. I can't say I know that much about those programs but certainly Harvard and Minnesota both have programs that go way back. Minnesota and BC could have a competition combining football, basketball, hockey and baseball.

Matthew from St. Louis Park, Minn.: I'd throw my hat in the ring for the Washington Huskies and Minnesota Golden Gophers. A rematch for the 1961 Rose Bowl and upset for the U Dub Huskies -- claiming their 1st National Championship over the #1 ranked Golden Gophers. The campuses are very similar: Urban, on the water(Lake Washington, Mississippi River) as well as the programs -- 2007 Gophers 1-11, 2008 Huskies 0-12, and Sark has the Dawgs on the upswing, which could be a blue print for Kill's Gophers. The fans from Minnesota would love how loud old Husky Stadium was, and the city of Seattle in general, and I think the Dawg fans would enjoy TCF Bank Stadium and what Minneapolis has to offer.

A lot of good suggestions from Minnesota fans, most of whom thankfully want their program to move out of cupcake city with the nonconference scheduling. The TCU series was a nice step, but Minnesota must continue to do more and pay attention to what its supporters want. Notre Dame would be a nice addition, as the Irish have had recruiting success in the Minneapolis area and would provide a national showcase for Jerry Kill's program.

Regional matchups like Missouri and Iowa State also could work nicely for Minnesota. Although neither program really moves the needle, Minnesota has history with Iowa State, as Jesse points out, and the Gophers haven't played Missouri since 1970 despite the schools' relative proximity. The Pac-12 suggestions also make sense, especially Washington, which certainly has some parallels with Minnesota as another major-conference state school located in a major city. I wonder whether Minnesota fans would travel to Washington, Arizona or Stanford, as they don't have a strong reputation for doing so. Syracuse, Harvard and Boston don't do much for me.

More fan nonconference picks 

Nebraska 
Michigan
Penn State
Michigan State
Ohio State
Wisconsin
Iowa