MINNEAPOLIS — After the Gophers beat Maryland for a third straight Big Ten win on Saturday, Associated Press Top 25 voter Marc Weiszer put Minnesota in his poll for Week 8 of the college football season.
Weiszer, the Georgia Bulldogs beat writer for the Athens (Georgia) Banner-Herald, was the only one of 63 pollsters to give Minnesota a vote. He had them at No. 25, so overall the Gophers got one overall tally to get a mention in the “receiving votes” fine print.
“It’s usually tougher to determine teams near the bottom of the poll than near the top,” Weiszer said in an email to the Pioneer Press. “I also considered Fresno State, BYU, Louisiana and N.C. State. I went with Minnesota because it seems to have picked up steam with three straight wins.”
Minnesota improved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten with last week’s 34-16 victory over the Terrapins, and the outcome would have been more one-sided if not for a Terps touchdown with 1:31 left in the game.
Weiszer might be alone in picking Minnesota for his Top 25 poll, but ESPN’s advanced analytic model SP+ backs up Weiszer’s vote, slotting Minnesota at No. 23.
Minnesota’s defense and rushing offense have led the way upward. The Gophers’ defense is allowing only 85.7 yards per game on the ground (fifth in the nation) and 19.6 points per game (26th). Their rushing attack is averaging 210 yards (24th). Their passing offense averages 149 yards per game (121) but has been efficient when called upon.
The obvious blemish on Minnesota’s resume is their loss to Bowling Green on Sept. 25 when the Gophers were 31-point favorites. Without that 14-10 loss, the Gophers might be seeing themselves somewhere in poll, maybe even in the teens.
Maryland and Purdue, two 4-3 teams the U has beaten this season, have had brief previous stints in the Top 25 either before or after playing the Gophers. It shows how close the U might be to a ranked position, if not for the faceplate against Bowling Green.
Weiszer responded to a question on that topic: How much did the loss to Bowling Green factor into your vote?
“The loss to Bowling Green is certainly a strike against the Golden Gophers,” he wrote. “But the only other loss being to a surging Ohio State offsets that some. And Purdue upsetting (then-second-ranked) Iowa helps.”
Gophers in NFL
Antoine Winfield Jr. returned to the Buccaneers on Sunday, and the Tampa Bay defense did a “Row The Boat” celebration just like they did during the former Gophers safety’s rookie year in 2020.
When the Bucs defense forced and recovered a fumble from Chicago quarterback Justin Fields, they gathered in the end zone for a choreographed moment.
“They’re having a good time,” CBS commentator Tony Romo said.
Winfield, who missed the previous two games with a concussion, had three tackles and a forced fumble in his return.
Other former U players who stood out: Packers linebacker De’Vondre Campbell tied a season high with 13 tackles and forced two fumbles; Jets linebacker Blake Cashman had his first tackles (3) of the season; Falcons cornerback Chris Williamson had three tackles in his first NFL start, and Ravens receiver Rashod Bateman had six targets and three receptions for 80 yards.
Elsewhere in the NFL: Bucs receiver Tyler Johnson had two grabs for 16 yards; Washington cornerback Ben St-Juste had three tackles; Texans safety Eric Murray received his first defensive snaps in three weeks and had two tackles, and Giants linebacker Carter Coughlin made a tackle.