Column: Gophers deserve top-25 spot

David Nelson

The Gophers faced plenty of adversity during their victory against Purdue on Saturday afternoon.

Point to the questionable calls by the game’s referees, the defense’s inability to contain Purdue’s speedy skill players, or the fact that the Gophers headed into locker room trailing at halftime and were winless when doing so under head coach Jerry Kill.

But like all good teams, Minnesota persevered and found a way to win.

More than 50,000 people were on hand Saturday to witness such toughness, and it’s time for the Associated Press poll to recognize that the Gophers’ success is no fluke.

This is a group of individuals that should be recognized in today’s rankings as one of the top 25 teams in the country.

Yet in the AP poll released Sunday, the Gophers received 61 votes and sat outside the rankings.

Minnesota currently sits atop the Big Ten West undefeated, above No. 16 Nebraska and previously ranked Wisconsin.

The Gophers’ only loss of the season came at the hands of TCU — which currently ranks as one of the top 10 teams in the nation.

While Minnesota has yet to beat a ranked opponent, neither have some of the members of the current top 25.

As of now, Minnesota’s schedule and record mirrors that of the Cornhuskers.

Nebraska won five games in a row against average to below-average opponents before being knocked off by Michigan State two weeks ago.

The Gophers, on the other hand, won two straight before losing to TCU but have since won four in a row to become one of the first bowl-eligible teams in the Big Ten.

Minnesota defeated San Jose State without its starting quarterback.

Then the Gophers went to Michigan and beat a reeling Wolverines squad in front of a packed Big House.

Now, Minnesota holds consecutive victories against Northwestern and Purdue — both of which defeated or put up a fight against quality conference opponents.

“I do think that once you find ways to win it builds confidence … and good teams find a way to win,” Kill said.

While Minnesota’s consistent middle-of-the-pack rankings in multiple statistical categories against the Big Ten might not make it seem like a candidate, losses by other top-25 teams should have propelled Minnesota.

The Gophers were ranked No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll released on Sunday.

Still, if Minnesota continues its hot streak into next week’s game against Illinois and beyond, there is no reason that the Gophers shouldn’t find themselves with numerals before their name in the AP poll sometime this season.