claeysA disclaimer, first: Like many of you, I’ve watched enough Gophers football and Vikings football this year to know the relative eye test winner between the two is clearly the purple.

So what follows is not an attempt to argue otherwise. But it is an exercise in perceptions at an interesting point in both the Gophers’ and Vikings’ seasons.

Records: Vikings are 5-1, Gophers are 5-2.

Scheduling break: The Vikings’ crossover games against AFC opponents are against the South, easily the worst division in that conference. The Gophers had a favorable non-conference slate and avoided several top Big Ten foes.

Public perception: The Vikings are one of the best teams in the league and their head coach is halfway to a statue outside of U.S. Bank Stadium. The Gophers are mediocre and their head coach is halfway to losing his job.

How we got here: The Vikings won their first five games of the season, launching talk that the team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Gophers won their first three games during non-conference play, lost two close games to decent teams, then won their last two games.

Most recent game: The Vikings played their worst game of the season, turning the ball over four times and staggering on offense in a 21-10 loss to the Eagles that angered fans. The Gophers played one of their worst games of the season, sputtering on defense in a last-second victory over Rutgers that angered fans.

Combined record of opponents: The Vikings have defeated three teams with winning records and two with losing records. Their only loss is to a team with a winning record. Combined, their six opponents are one game over .500 at 20-19. The Gophers have defeated two teams with even records, two teams with losing records and one team with a winning record. Both of their losses came to teams with winning records. Combined, their seven opponents are one game over .500 at 27-26.

Upcoming opponent: The Vikings have a road game Monday at a struggling opponent in Illinois (the Bears) in which Minnesota is favored by six points. A victory would help restore any faith that was lost in Philadelphia last week, while a loss would cause fans to worry more. The Gophers have a road game Saturday against a struggling opponent in Illinois (the Illini) in which Minnesota is favored by five points. A victory would give them a three-game conference winning streak and put them on a path to a bowl game and even an outside shot at contending in the Big Ten West. A loss would convince some fans that nothing will ever go right in the modern history of the program.

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