The strong finish by the Gophers’ football team this season has one publication buying into P.J. Fleck’s program.
The Sporting News has the Gophers ranked 25th in their just released Pre-Preseason Top 25. This comes after the Gophers went 3-1 in their final four games following a 1-5 start in the Big Ten. The hot streak included victories over Purdue (41-10), Wisconsin (37-15) and Georgia Tech (34-10) in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit.
The Sporting News’ Bill Bender wrote: “Row the Boat, indeed.” We know the risks of ranking the Gophers, but P.J. Fleck had this team playing at a high level with blowout wins against Purdue and Wisconsin in November before an impressive bowl rout against Georgia Tech. Plus, the Gophers’ schedule is a little easier than the other candidates.
TSN has Alabama ranked No. 1 and Clemson at No. 2, despite the fact Clemson cruised past Alabama on Monday in the College Football Playoff national championship game. TSN had six Big Ten teams in its Top 25, including Ohio State at No. 5, Michigan at No. 10, Penn State at No. 12, Wisconsin at No. 22, Northwestern at No. 24 and the Gophers.