The initial College Football Playoff ranking was released between games of ESPN's college basketball kickoff doubleheader Tuesday night (synergy!), and two things are true about it:
1) Nothing much matters until the final ranking.
2) The Gophers and newly extended head coach P.J. Fleck can feel free to play the "nobody respects us" card based on its outcome.
The Gophers are one of seven teams that sit undefeated. The first five of those seven are ranked 1-5 by the CFP committee in the initial rankings. Baylor is No. 12. And the Gophers are way down at No. 17.
Four teams with one loss are ahead of Minnesota. More annoyingly, SIX TEAMS with two losses are ahead of the Gophers, including 6-2 Wisconsin at No. 13. The Badgers trail the Gophers by two games in the Big Ten West standings and have lost their past two games — one of them to Illinois, a team the Gophers thumped 40-17.
Do the Gophers belong in the top five? No way. This is where you can rightly point to the strength of schedule and the tense manner in which the Gophers won three nonconference games and say "prove it to us against better competition."
It's even fine to see Minnesota behind some one-loss teams that have played tougher competition.
But behind a bunch of two-loss teams, including a Badgers team that already has a bad loss and a 31-point defeat against Ohio State? That's not right.
The AP voters who have the Gophers 13th and the Badgers 16th are far closer to painting an accurate picture of where things stand than the committee is at this point.
Again, none of this matters a ton right now, and things will change in a hurry during November.
The Gophers will have three prime opportunities in the next month to change the committee's mind or reinforce their position when they face Penn State (CPF No. 4), Wisconsin (13) and Iowa (No. 18, a two-loss team just below the Gophers).
And honestly, flying under the radar and/or having a reason to say "they don't respect us" plays directly into the happiest versions of both Minnesota fandom and coaching psychology.
Unexpected, under-the-radar success fills fans' hearts with joy. Expectations make Minnesota fans nervous, as a rule (and with good reason based on big-picture history).
As hard as Fleck lobbied for ESPN's GameDay to visit campus this weekend — with the show choosing that pesky other showdown of undefeated CFP contending teams between Alabama and LSU — it's rare that a coach of an 8-0 team can honestly tell his players they have a lot left to prove.
So don't get too mad, even if there's an ESPN.com story floating around that says the Badgers would get the Rose Bowl bid over the Gophers if the season ended today based on those CFP rankings.
The season doesn't end today. In a lot of years, the Gophers season is practically over already, but this year they've set themselves up so that the only part of the season that really matters starts Saturday.