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ESPN writer picks Gophers as dark horse for CFB playoff

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Nobody knows just how good the Gophers will be this season, but the best guesses seem to put them in the upper-tier of the Big Ten West Division, but not quite good enough to win the Big Ten title.

The people picking the Gophers to even start the season with a victory against No. 2-ranked TCU next Thursday are few and far between – but we've found one who doesn't think it's all that crazy. In fact, this guy thinks Minnesota, if all goes well (clearly), could make a run at the College Football Playoff.

Meet ESPN college football analyst Mark Sherman, who writes:

"Stop laughing. I realize the Gophers open with No. 2 TCU and must play at Ohio State in Week 10. Forget for a moment, though, about November and consider only what would happen if Minnesota beats the Horned Frogs next week in Minneapolis. Is it a long shot? Sure, but it's not inconceivable behind a shutdown secondary and an experienced quarterback in Mitch Leidner, who will limit mistakes and an energized atmosphere. So let's say the Gophers take down TCU. They may just roll off eight wins to open the season" ...

An 8-0 start to the season would be incredible, and it would take Minnesota to Ohio State for a chance to go 9-0. Sherman gives the Gophers little chance to upset the defending national champions, but you never know, right?

For more on how brutal Minnesota's schedule is, check out head coach Jerry Kill's words about playing a Week 2 game on the road against the high-flying offense of Colorado State.

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