Gophers Receive Votes, Go Unranked in Preseason AP Poll

Photo: Corey Perrine - Getty Images

The Minnesota Gophers have gained some steam recently, as we charge toward the start of the 2022 college football season. PJ Fleck’s latest squad has its record-breaking offensive coordinator back, along with many of his key skill position players (Tanner Morgan, Mohamed Ibrahim, Chris-Autman Bell) from that 2019 season.

Defense, under coordinator Joe Rossi (The Guru), has become the Gophers’ calling card. Transfer portal additions in the secondary could make the difference in success and failure in 2022. Minnesota’s schedule, one of the most favorable in the conference, should help.

On Monday, the Associated Press released their annual preseason top-25 poll. PJ Fleck’s newest iteration of football Gophers weren’t able to sneak into the official rankings, but they did receive plenty of votes. 31 votes, to be exact; good for 32nd most in the country. Six Big Ten teams ranked higher than the Minnesota Gophers. Nine teams received votes. USC (#14) received 711 votes and UCLA received 2 votes. Both teams will leave the PAC-12 and join the Big Ten in 2024.

  • (2) Ohio State – 1,506 votes
  • (8) Michigan – 1,203 votes
  • (15) Michigan State – 631 votes
  • (18) Wisconsin – 365 votes
  • (28) Iowa – 163 votes
  • (29) Penn State – 160 votes
  • (32) Minnesota – 31 votes
  • (34) Purdue – 17 votes
  • (47) Nebraska – 1 vote

Wide Open West

The top of the Big Ten lives in the East Division, at least for now. We’ll see what the conference does with the additions of USC and UCLA, possibly others, over the next few years. And it’s still ruled by Ohio State, who’s likely to represent the Big Ten in the 2022-23 College Football Playoff.

What does the AP Poll tell us about the Gophers’ chances in 2022? That the West Division is, again, wide open. Yes, the Wisconsin Badgers are heavy favorites, deservedly, but that’s been the case for the last two seasons. And in both 2020 and 2021, the Badgers sat home on Championship Weekend. Something they aren’t used to.

Since splitting into two divisions in 2011, Wisconsin had never missed out on two straight Big Ten Championship games, until Northwestern took the title in 2020 and Iowa beat out the Gophers in 2021. Now, Bucky is in danger of sitting home for three-straight years.

This year’s Rose Bowl is expected to be the last to feature a power PAC-12 vs Big Ten matchup, given the PAC 12 may not even exist after the 2022 season. If that’s really the case, a return of the once dominant Minnesota Gophers, who haven’t been in the Rose Bowl parade since 1962, almost feels too romantic for reality…

Coaches Poll

Until the College Football Playoff Rankings released during the season, the AP Poll is the most trusted. But the USA Today Coaches Poll is also referenced early and often, throughout the year. Those preseason rankings released over the weekend. The Minnesota Gophers received 6 votes, good for 44th in the nation.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan