The Gophers fell two spots to No. 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings after losing on Saturday at No. 17 Iowa. The latest rankings were announced Tuesday evening and had the Gophers (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) one spot ahead of Florida (9-2).
Minnesota is the third Big Ten team in the rankings, behind No. 2 Ohio State (10-0) and No. 8 Penn State (9-1). LSU (10-0), Ohio State, Clemson (11-0) and Georgia (9-1) are the top four teams in the rankings, meaning they would go to the College Football Playoff semifinals.
Penn State’s place ahead of the Gophers means the Nittany Lions would represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl and right now they would face No. 6 Oregon. The Gophers upset Penn State two weeks ago at TCF Bank Stadium and were ahead of the Nittany Lions at eighth in the CFP rankings last week. Penn State will play at Ohio State on Saturday.
ESPN projected Tuesday that the Orange Bowl would feature the Gophers against Virginia Tech.
The Gophers will play at Northwestern (2-8, 0-7) on Saturday. Minnesota holds a one-game lead over Wisconsin in the Big Ten West. The Badgers (8-2, 5-2) are ranked 12th and will play host to Purdue (4-6, 3-4) on Saturday. If the Gophers and Badgers both win Saturday, their Nov. 30th meeting at TCF Bank Stadium will be for a berth in the Big Ten title game.
MORGAN IN CONCUSSION PROTOCOL
The status of Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan for Saturday’s game against the Wildcats remains uncertain. Morgan, the leading passer in the Big Ten, had to leave the loss to Iowa late in the game after being sacked twice and is in the concussion protocol, according to coach P.J. Fleck. Fleck said Tuesday that Morgan has made progress but has not been cleared.
A game-time decision could be made on Morgan and, if he doesn’t play, it will be either Jacob Clark or Cole Kramer getting the start. Both are true freshmen. “Whoever plays better in practice this week, if it comes down to it,” will get the start, Fleck said. “It’s a competition between Jacob and Cole, and they’re both getting better. They’re both working really hard. They’ve both made a ton of progress. They both had a lot thrown at them.”
Morgan leads the conference with an average of 246.8 passing yards per game and is fifth in FBS with an average of 10.8 yards per attempt. Morgan has a 64.3 completion percentage. That is the best in program history among passers with a minimum of 300 attempts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.