Put the Minnesota Gophers in the College Football Playoff

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Joe Broback

Contributor at Champion Insiders
Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
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We’ve seen this story before, but it now has a new ending. The Minnesota Gophers tend to be overlooked when it comes to being a contender on the national stage, but this year’s different. A great set of skill players, a quarterback with tremendous poise and confidence, and a defense that comes through in the clutch give Minnesota a legitimate team in 2019. Now, it’s time for the committee to do their part.

Minnesota Gophers the contender

They’ve had a shot at Penn State before. Their matchup in 2016 ended in a 29-26 overtime win for Penn State, and the Minnesota Gophers would finish 9-4. As was the standard for the program, they beat team’s they should and lost to those who were better. No matter what the expectations were, they produced similar results.

This weekend presented a scenario that Gophers fans have seen in the past, and it never ended well. They were never a contender for a division championship, let alone a conference championship. They couldn’t find consistent play at quarterback, playmakers were lacking at the skill positions, and the defense was mostly average (especially in big games).

Things were different on Saturday. Quarterback Tanner Morgan went 18-for-20 for 339 yards and three touchdowns passing. Rashod Bateman, who P.J. Fleck stole right out of Georgia’s backyard, caught seven passes for 203 yards and a touchdown. Antoine Winfield Jr. picked off two of Sean Clifford’s passes, one of the three in the game.

Saturday’s upset win produced more than just an upset. It showed fans that things were different, and this team was destined for a different ending to their season. Now that they’ve added a playoff-caliber win to their resume, it’s time for the committee to give them the respect they deserve.

Put them in the playoff

Alabama lost this past weekend to LSU, but media members continue to keep them in the playoff. Same with Georgia, but both teams have one loss. Why do they deserve to be above Minnesota at this point? If the committee wants to be consistent, the brand can’t affect their decision. Media members continue to be subjective with their rankings, but the committee must show otherwise. If we simply look at the schedules, two have obvious flaws while one doesn’t.

Let’s start with the basics. All three have wins over ranked teams. Minnesota beat #4 Penn State this weekend, Alabama beat #24 Texas A&M, and Georgia beat #7 Notre Dame and #6 Florida. The teams Minnesota’s are 43-42, Alabama’s are a combined 31-45, and Georgia’s are 40-35. If you look at essentially any category the committee will see, Minnesota’s right there with those other two. The Gophers just don’t have one thing the other two do: a loss.

In 2017 and 2018, the debate raged about if UCF, a Group of 5 team, deserved to be in the playoff. The Knights finished undefeated two years in a row, but didn’t sniff the playoff. The committee stated, “To qualify for the playoff, teams need to play tough schedules against good teams .” Shouldn’t that apply to everyone?

Yes, Alabama lost to the second best team in the country, but they lost. Their best win is against a 6-3 team. Georgia has two wins against ranked teams, but also lost to 4-5 South Carolina. Justifying losses over wins negates the point of winning, and it’s not like Minnesota doesn’t have a good win on their resume. They deserve more love now.

Save the fact that the purpose of the committee isn’t to rank the Top 25 teams starting after Week 10. If they’re about picking the best teams or the right teams, Minnesota fits both categories. Yes, they have teams on their schedule that aren’t great, but so do Alabama and Georgia. If you’re going to judge this Gophers team, you must do so in the same light as the Tide and Bulldogs. They’ve earned that much.

Minnesota might very well lose in the next three games. We still don’t know if they can compete with the likes of Ohio State, but that’s not the point of the rankings. You can’t use the unknown future against a team’s current situation. Right now, they belong in the playoff. They have a win against a playoff team, and they haven’t lost, and that’s better than what Alabama and Georgia can say. If the Gophers do lose, go ahead and drop them, but judge them on what they’ve done, not what they might do.

Alabama and Georgia are good teams, there’s no doubt about that. But they lost. Letting teams with one loss get in over a team with no losses is not a great standard to set. Minnesota’s a Power 5 team, not a Division III school. There’s not a huge drop off between these three schools right now, and that needs to be taken into account. With how strange the 2019 season’s been with a lack of contenders and upsets, an undefeated Minnesota team deserves a shot.

Yes they must prove they belong, but they’ve done that up until this point. Once you add a Top 4 win to your resume, that should trump any loss by any other team. Winning should always be more important than losing, especially in this case. If you argue otherwise, I don’t have time to hear it.

So College Football Committee, if you’re listening, do the right thing. Put the Minnesota Gophers in the Top 4, and let them prove you right.

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