The University of Minnesota Gopher football team is poised to continue their surge in 2020 and every Gopher fan knows it. When 247Sports.com compiled their list of the top-10 players in the Big Ten, it wasn’t a shock to see two Gophers make the cut. The Heisman hopeful, (QB) Tanner Morgan ranked 6th on the list and Biletnikoff finalist, (WR) Rashod Bateman, came in 3rd.
The Big Ten has arguably become the nation’s top conference in all of college football. Having gone to school at Florida, I know SEC fans will convulse at that claim… and we can never count out NDSU fans from climbing into my mentions anymore.
But power conference of the midwest has proven its belonging, lately, and the Minnesota Gophers appear to be cementing themselves within that group of top teams. The rise of the entire Big Ten West over the last couple years has accounted for a lot of that.
The remainder of the list can be found at 247Sports.com. I don’t want to give the whole thing away. Rondale Moore (WR) finished 8th for Purdue, though… which I found interesting given how much people love him. There’s also only one Badger. The list, of course, is topped by Buckeye (more on that later).
THE RASHOD BATEMAN SPECIAL
If any Gopher was going to grace this list, it was going to be Rashod Bateman. The kid has been a monster while playing in maroon and gold, climbing up the Gopher record books in his first two years. He was even awarded the Big Ten Receiver of the Year and was named a preseason 2nd-Team All-American to begin 2020.
After grabbing 60 catches for 1,219 yards (20.3 YPC) and 11 TD in 2019, expect him to at least approach those numbers this fall. With Tanner Morgan under center, this is an easy bet to make. Their connection is special.
Don’t forget, he is already a darling in 2021 NFL mock drafts, and it could be a special season for the Tifton, GA native. Just soak his play up while you can, Gopher fans.
I would love to dive deeper on Bateman’s abilities and future. But to do so would just be reiterating what we already wrote about this earlier today. So just click there and come back for more on our favorite QB.
TANNER MORGAN’S SHOW
But if any quarterback is going to make waves in 2020, it is Tanner Morgan. After a mediocre freshman year in 2018, Morgan burst onto the national scene in 2019. He threw for 3,253 yards with 30 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Throw in an excellent 178.7 passer rating and you have the making of something special.
Tanner Morgan has even become a preseason Heisman dark horse. It makes sense too, after ranking among the top quarterbacks nationally in many categories. He was 1st in yards per attempt (12.5), 2nd in passing touchdowns of more than 20 yards in the Big Ten (10), 3rd in most yards on passes 20+ yards downfield (1,135), and 2nd in passing yards per attempt under pressure (9.6). He’s just really good at stuff…
Not only does Morgan have the goods to lead the Gophers to an unbelievable 2020 campaign, but he can also prove to the NFL, that he is capable of leading a franchise and possible 1st round pick.
It will be interesting to see how he continues his growth at the position after losing star receiver Tyler Johnson to the NFL. But expect Chris Autman-Bell and Demetrius Douglas rise up and help alleviate any double coverage Bateman will be subject to. This trio will give Morgan the weapons he needs to lead the team to victories.
Now, I don’t believe he will win the Heisman and he won’t be the first quarterback taken in the draft (Fields will – more coming on him momentarily), but he should definitely be considered a first-round pick. Tanner should definitely be higher on the board than NDSU darling, Trey Lance.
Warning: Ohio State Plug Coming
Sorry to rain on your parades, Gopher and Bison fans. At least you can band together over something…aka your hatred towards my allegiance to better football teams.
That brings me to the only paragraph Eric will give me, to talk about my Buckeye fandom (long story for this post). I am ecstatic to see my quarterback and future Heisman-winner, Justin Fields, lead this list.
Ohio State WR, Chris Olave (or even Garrett Wilson) will end up a better receiver this year than Bateman too, in my (*non-humble) opinion. That blog (*that will never get posted) is for another day, though, if Eric succumbs to my nagging (*he won’t). —- (*Eric Notes)
THIS IS THE YEAR
Although PJ Fleck has been recruiting out of his mind recently, this is still the year for the Gophers to put it all together and make a run at Indy, making a playoff appearance still possible (but unlikely because Ohio State).
There is such a slim chance both Morgan and Bateman stay for their senior years. Even one of them staying is unlikely, at this point, especially if Gopher fans have the season they are hoping and expecting to have.
So enjoy the season to come and know that the Gophers are my favorite Big Ten West team… (even if I will get endless shit from my boyfriend — who goes to Wisconsin). Now THAT is saying something.
Row The Boat. Ski-U-Mah. All that bull crap. Go Gophs and see you in Indy.
Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan
(*I just realized I have an Ohio State fan writer who is sharing his life with a Wisconsin fan… We’ve lost all credibility. — Eric)