Saturday's 39-38 barnburner of a victory against the Purdue Boilermakers vaulted the Minnesota Golden Gophers into the Top 25 of the Coaches Poll, coming in at No. 24 in the latest rankings.
Not only did the Gophers move to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten West division, they also became bowl eligible for a third consecutive season. Cracking the Top 25 in the Coaches Poll has been easier than jumping into the Top 25 of the weekly AP Poll. Minnesota hasn't been ranked to the AP's Top 25 since 2008, the Star Tribune says.
But they are close. The Gophers are ranked No. 28 in this week's AP Top 25.
Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys spoke with the Poineer Press on Sunday about what it means to be ranked.
"Any time you win, when you have to recruit kids nationally, the more national exposure and positive exposure you can get, it has to help at some time," Claeys said. "Whether it's this year's class or next year's class."
The Gophers' lone loss this season was a 30-7 blowout against Texas Christian University. TCU is ranked No. 10 in the AP Top 25 – the highest ranking for any team in the Big 12.
Minnesota plays at Illinois on Saturday and will be a heavy favorite. Moving to 7-1 on the season and 4-0 in conference play would keep the Gophers on top of the West Division.
The rest of Minnesota's schedule is tough. Following an open date in two weeks, they host back-to-back home games against Iowa and Ohio State. Following that they close the season with consecutive road games at Nebraska and Wisconsin, which ultimately could decide the division championship.
Think about it this way: It's not out of the question that Minnesota could be playing in the Big Ten championship.