We’ve already come this far in an unlikely Gophers football season, so why not go all-in, right? What would it take for the No. 8 Gophers to make the four-team College Football Playoff.
Yes, it’s an extreme long shot and would require Gophers victories over Wisconsin on Saturday and No. 1 Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. But huge upsets can happen. Need proof? Look back at Feb. 22, 1980, in Lake Placid. Final score: USA 4, USSR 3. The architect of that masterpiece was a Gophers coach whose motivational tactics often rubbed skeptics the wrong way. Hmmm.
If the Gophers defeat No. 12 Wisconsin and Ohio State, that would give Minnesota three marquee wins, counting No. 10 Penn State.
Let’s look at the latest CFP rankings and see what results would help the Gophers most.
• 1. Ohio State (11-0): A win over Michigan would boost the Buckeyes’ profile and make a Gophers win in the Big Ten title game even bigger.
• 2. LSU (11-0): The Tigers would help by beating Georgia in the SEC title game, giving the Bulldogs a second loss.
• 3. Clemson (11-0): Best-case scenario, but unlikely, is for the Tigers to lose at South Carolina and in the ACC title game. With their relatively weak schedule, the defending national champs might miss the playoffs with one loss and likely would with two.
• 4. Georgia (10-1): See the LSU entry. Minnesota fans would be rooting against the Dawgs.
• 5. Alabama (10-1): A ‘Bama loss in the Iron Bowl at Auburn could clear a path into the top four for the Gophers.
Two losses should bounce the Tide from playoff contention.
• 6. Utah (10-1): Like the Gophers, the Utes are having a breakthrough season with Rose Bowl and playoff aspirations. Utah losing to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, or Colorado on Saturday, would help Minnesota.
• 7. Oklahoma (10-1) and 9. Baylor (10-1): The Sooners and Bears are bracketed around the No. 8 Gophers in the CFP rankings, and they’ll meet in the Big 12 title game. The best scenario for Minnesota would be Oklahoma falling to Oklahoma State on Saturday in the Bedlam Game, then beating Baylor for the Big 12 championship.
• 10. Penn State (9-2): The Nittany Lions, who play lowly Rutgers this week, are basically out of the playoff hunt.