Gophers tumble in College Football Playoff rankings; P.J. Fleck and Antoine Winfield Jr. receive honors

The Gophers tumbled from eighth to 18th in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday after losing to Wisconsin last Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. The Badgers (10-2) moved from 12th to eighth after beating the Gophers, 38-17.

Ohio State (12-0), LSU (12-0), Clemson (12-0) and Georgia (11-1) remained the top four teams that would make up the college football playoff. Penn State (10-2, 10th), Michigan (9-3, 14th) and Iowa (9-3, 16th) were other Big Ten teams ahead of Minnesota (10-2).

Meanwhile, the Big Ten announced Gophers coach P.J. Fleck was named the Hayes-Schembechler coach of the year, which is voted on by conference coaches. It’s the third time Fleck has been named a conference coach of the year in his seven seasons as a head coach. Fleck was named Mid-American Conference coach of the year in 2014 and 2016.

The Gophers’ 10 regular-season wins are their most since 1905 and this year is also the first time ever that Minnesota won seven Big Ten games in a season.

Defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. was named the Tatum-Woodson defensive back of the year, becoming the first Gopher to receive the honor. Winfield, who is also one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Award, was also named All-Big Ten first team by both the coaches and media.

Winfield leads the Gophers with 83 tackles, which includes 58 solo stops. He also has 3.5 tackles for loss and three sacks this year to go along with seven interceptions and two forced fumbles. Winfield’s seven interceptions tied a school single-season record and also ranks fourth in the NCAA this year.