5 Reasons Why Minnesota Football Will Take A Step Back In 2014

5 Reasons Why Minnesota Football Will Take A Step Back In 2014

Minnesota Golden Gophers Football 2014 Season
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One of the better stories of the 2013 season was Minnesota's rise to relevance under head coach Jerry Kill, who served as a rallying cry for the Gophers following a seizure. While fans hope Minnesota's successful eight-win campaign will help generate the continued success they have been thirsting for, they should prepare for disappointment. Here are five reasons why the Gophers will take a step back in 2014.

5. Late Road Games at Nebraska, Wisconsin

Minnesota Golden Gophers Football 2014 Season
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5. Late Road Games at Nebraska, Wisconsin

Minnesota Golden Gophers Football 2014 Season
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The most obvious hindrances to improving on last year's record lie with the Minnesota's final two games, which will come on the road against the Big Ten West division's best teams in Nebraska and Wisconsin. The Gophers could not have had worse luck with their schedule, and generating momentum for a late push will be tough sledding with Iowa, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin serving as the Golden Gophers' final four opponents.

4. Tough Big Ten East Crossover Games

Minnesota vs. Michigan Football 2014 Season
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4. Tough Big Ten East Crossover Games

Minnesota vs. Michigan Football 2014 Season
Getty Images

As if Minnesota's in-division schedule wasn't tough enough, its crossover games against the Big Ten East division landed it conference powers Michigan and Ohio State. Though the Buckeyes will have to travel to TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota will still be the underdog. Drawing Michigan on the road also works against the Gophers, as the Wolverines will be considerably tougher to beat with 100,000-plus maize and blue supporters behind them.

3. Poor offensive balance

Mitch Leidner Minnesota Football 2014 Season
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

3. Poor Offensive Balance

Mitch Leidner Minnesota Football 2014 Season
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota should have a potent running game this season with David Cobb (1,202 rushing yards in 2013) joined by former starter Rodrick Williams and redshirt freshman Berkley Edwards, who impressed with his speed this spring. However, the passing game leaves much to be desired with dual-threat QB Mitch Leidner under center. He will surely possess more confidence as the go-to guy, but doesn't provide enough with his arm for sufficient balance.

2. Holes in Key Positions

Minnesota Golden Gophers 2014 Season Preview
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

2. Holes in Key Positions

Minnesota Golden Gophers 2014 Season Preview
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

While Minnesota returns key players on both sides of the ball, there are still questions about the Gophers' linebackers and receivers. Leidner will have reliable tight end Maxx Williams, but it still remains to be seen which receivers will help the Gophers improve on their dead-last passing ranking from 2013. While the defense is expected to be strong, two linebacker spots need to be filled beside star Damien Wilson and may be a weak link.

1. Target On Their Backs

Minnesota Golden Gophers Football 2014 Season Preview
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

1. Target On Their Backs

Minnesota Golden Gophers Football 2014 Season Preview
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota has not repeated success in recent decades, continually falling to the back of the pack after making positive strides. While last season was encouraging, the Gophers will switch from being the hunter to the hunted after surprising some teams in 2013. Playing with a target will be a new experience for this group and while they look better than last year, the Gophers will not see a translation in the win column.

Michael Briggs is a College Football Writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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