Putting the ‘gold’ in Golden Gophers

WIKI COMMONS | PHOTO COURTESY
TCF Bank Stadium fans finally have something to cheer about

The Gophers are relevant once again

To the surprise of many, the Golden Gophers are one of five remaining undefeated teams in FBS. The Gophers took down the then 4th ranked Penn State Nittany Lions in what may have been the biggest win in program history. For the first time in a long time, the Gophers could finally feel like they belonged.

Naturally, all true Minnesota sports fans have been waiting for everything to go wrong. That’s just the way of life for Minnesota fans. Get excited, get let down, repeat. However, things haven’t gone awry, yet, and maybe they won’t this season. Clemson, Baylor, Ohio State and LSU join Minnesota as the only perfect teams remaining. The last time the Gophers started a season 9-0 was in 1904. For reference, Dr. Seuss was born in 1904, and that year marked the opening of New York City’s first subway.

Season Summary

The Gophers’ season began in rough waters. They won by a touchdown in the opening game against SDSU and pulled off a three-point victory against Fresno State in double overtime the next game. The following two games they won by seven points or fewer. Since then, they’ve hit the rapids and haven’t looked back. Their biggest wins of the season include a home victory over Nebraska and more recently a home victory over Penn State. Penn State was undefeated and ranked number four going into the game. The Gophers sealed the deal with an interception in the fourth quarter.

The Gophers have three regular season games remaining this season. They have an away matchup with 20th ranked Iowa on Nov. 15 followed by an away matchup at Northwestern and a home stint against the 14th ranked Wisconsin Badgers. The Gophers have no scheduled matchups this season against any of the other undefeated teams, but if they make the Big Ten Championship game it will likely be against perennial powerhouse Ohio State. If, and it’s a big if, if Minnesota is somehow able to get through the season undefeated and with a Big Ten Championship under their they should be playing in the College Football Playoff.

According to Patch, Minnesota reaches the Big Ten Championship if they win two of their next three games. The Gophers’ have a 13 percent chance of winning the Big Ten, which they haven’t won since 1967, and a nine percent chance of making the college football playoff. Winning the Big Ten Championship obviously skyrockets their odds of making into the playoff. A loss in the Big Ten Championship doesn’t necessarily guarantee they are out of the playoff, but they would need chaos of unforeseen proportions to take place around college football to get in. These are the times where being a Bison is so great. The FCS playoffs consist of 24 teams, so they Bison have had little trouble securing a spot. Yet this begs the question: why doesn’t the FBS have a larger, more inclusive playoff?

Reasons Against Expansion

According to CBS Sports, there are a variety of reasons. The first is that ESPN can’t afford to have an eight-team playoff, let alone a postseason as large as the FCS playoffs. The second is that FBS would have to abolish the championship series and probably a regular-season game to have a larger playoff, which they’re unwilling to do. Thirdly, FBS players play at a higher level than FCS players. This insinuates that they’re more prone to injury. Furthermore, some player interest organization or another is bound to have an issue with increasing the number of games in the season for NFL-bound prospects.

The fact of the matter is that an expanded playoff isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Gopher fans, and other FBS fans for that matter, have to achieve near-perfection just to have a chance at winning the title. NDSU fans can rest easy at night knowing we just need to be in the top 24 to make the postseason year in and year out.

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