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.