The Golden Gophers seem to be similar to Northwestern: Minnesota returns a TON on offense- in fact they only seemed to have lost QB/WR/? Marquise Gray. They return everyone else including the entire 2-deep on the OL and even add a former 4* recruit & OSU transfer on the OL.
Defensively they lost half of their starters from a competent unit. Strength will be on the DL with weakness increasing toward the secondary.
Where the teams diverge is with QB, offensive competency and the schedule. Kill let go of Phil Nelson's RS in the last half of the season and he seemed to be a pleasant surprise for a true FR on an offense that was woeful. The schedule is VERY soft with a home date vs UNLV seemingly the toughest opponent in the OOC slate that features ZERO BCS teams.
Kill has has a very good track record in his 3rd years, but I don't see the defense holding on to last years respecable performance AND the offense becoming adequate-to-good. IMO, both of these would need to happen if Goldy wants to sit at the adult table in the division with MSU, NEB, NW and M.
Looks like another sweep in the OOC, in fact I see the Gophers swaggering into A2 5-0 with a big victory over the Hawkeyes the week before. Unfortunately reality sets in with 3 straight losses @M, @NW and Neb. They beat IU and PSU, but end with losses to Wisc and MSU.
Looks like 7-5 (3-5) and gradual progress for Goldy, bucking the huge 3rd year turnaround pattern Jerry Kill has shown in the past.