One day after the Big Ten announced the conference-only 2020 football schedule, the Minnesota Gophers find themselves ranked 18th in the nation in the preseason Coaches Poll from USA Today.
Somewhat surprisingly, there are five Big Ten teams ranked ahead of Minnesota in the top-25 poll: Ohio State (2), Penn State (7), Wisconsin (12) and Michigan (14). Iowa, at No. 23, is the only other Big Ten team in the poll.
Minnesota will have an opportunity to prove the poll wrong almost immediately as they are scheduled to open the season Sept. 5 at Michigan State before playing three consecutive ranked Big Ten opponents:
- Sept. 12: vs. Michigan
- Sept. 19: vs. Iowa
- Sept. 26: at Wisconsin
In fact, those are the only ranked teams the Gophers have on their entire schedule, which is void of non-conference opponents this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Gophers will also be facing obstacles on both sides of the ball, namely at wide receiver with Tyler Johnson going to the NFL (drafted by Tampa Bay) and All-Big Ten star Rashod Bateman deciding this week that he's opted out of the upcoming season and instead signed with an agent to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.