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Had the Gophers not lost at home to Bowling Green in October, there's a good chance they would be ranked quite a bit higher than they are in the first College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night. 

Minnesota is 6-2 and in first place in the Big Ten West and the rankings respect that, putting the Gophers at No. 20 in the College Football Playoff poll. It's Minnesota's first appearance in the poll since landing as high as No. 8 during the 2019 season. 

Five other Big Ten teams are ranked in the poll: No. 3. Michigan State, No. 5 Ohio State and No. 7 Michigan. No. 21 Wisconsin, No. 22 Iowa. 

Minnesota can improve to 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten with a win Saturday at 11 a.m. against Illinois. Then the schedule gets very serious down the stretch with games against Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin. 

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