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Gophers deserve national respect with blowout road win at Michigan State

The 27-point win over the Spartans was Minnesota's closest game this season.

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Michigan State
Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne gets sacked by Minnesota defensive back Ryan Stapp (22) in the first quarter Saturday, Sept. 23, 2022, in East Lansing, Michigan.
Dale Young / USA Today Sports
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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Voters in the Associated Press top 25 poll had been warming up to the Gophers as the season has progressed, but they still appeared to be taking a wait-and-see approach after three runaway victories over winless nonconference foes.

Minnesota’s continued domination in a 34-7 win over previously ranked Michigan State on Saturday at Spartan Stadium should now garner more national respect. The next AP poll comes out Sunday afternoon.

In the preseason ranking, Minnesota had received 31 votes, but that dipped to 22 after the 38-0 win over New Mexico State on Sept. 1. It climbed to 37 votes after the 62-10 win over Western Illinois on Set. 10 and was up again to 48 after the 49-7 win over Colorado last week.

Michigan State had received 91 votes, nearly double Minnesota’s tally, in this week’s AP poll. The Spartans had been ranked 11th in the AP poll before a 39-28 loss at Washington last week. MSU kept a spot in the coaches’ poll, checking in at No. 21.

MORE MINNESOTA GOPHERS COVERAGE:
With about 15 minutes of playing time each game, Minnesota’s freshmen are getting a crash course in big-time college basketball
P.J. Fleck’s program hasn’t yet won the Big Ten West, but it’s building a track record unseen since the 1960s
Mara Braun, who had a career-high 34 points and a buzzer-beater in a 101-99 victory over Lehigh, scored a game-high 27 points.
Six-year senior was named to all-Big Ten first team, but also lost conference award to Michigan's Blake Corum.
The award comes after a comeback season that saw the outside hitter lead the conference in kills per set (4.43) and points per set (449).
In September, Whalen was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
Virginia Tech (7-1) was a 12-point favorite over Minnesota (4-3) and rolled to an easy victory.
Minnesota had aspirations to reach the Big Ten title game. But the Gophers lost crucial intra-division games to Purdue, Illinois and Iowa, and it cost them a Big Ten West championship.
The Gophers will be back in action on Wednesday, where they’ll take on Wake Forest in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at 7 p.m. at The Barn.
Minnesota is the No. 2 seed in its region and will play Friday at Maturi Pavilion.

The 25th ranked team in this week’s poll, Miami (Fla.), received 123 votes. The Hurricanes lost to unranked Middle Tennessee State 45-31on Saturday.

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Minnesota hasn’t been ranked by the AP since Oct. 18, 2020; they promptly fell out after a 49-24 loss to No. 18 Michigan in the first week of the pandemic-delayed season.

Hooray for Mo

More than 10 outbursts were heard coming out of the Gophers’ locker room postgame Saturday, and one was extra special. The team celebrated tailback Mo Ibrahim passing Darrell Thompson with his 41st career rushing touchdown in the first quarter.

“That’s pretty special,” quarterback Tanner Morgan said. “Knowing Mo, it wasn’t an individual thing. He shared that with us. You could see everyone was excited for him. He’s going to downplay it, but that’s history. DT is an all-time Gopher great.

Scheduling

Gophers Athletics Director Mark Coyle is headed to Chicago after Saturday’s game to meet with fellow Big Ten ADs to determine football schedules for the 2023 season.

Coyle said on the KFXN-FM pregame show that a few of the subjects to be figured out include the future of divisions and whether they keep nine-game conference schedules.

Minnesota’s future schedules previously were available online, but with the changes on the horizon in the conference, the U has taken them off its website.

Southern California and UCLA will join the conference in 2024, which will create more scheduling changes.

Briefly

Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck improved to 2-4 in Big Ten openers. At Minnesota, he also improved to 1-1 against the Spartans. Fleck, who is now 22-22 in Big Ten play, had his first game as collegiate head coach in East Lansing, when Western Michigan lost 26-13 on Aug. 30, 2013. … Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren attended Saturday’s game. … Fleck chatted with former MSU football coach Mark Dantonio and its current men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo pregame. … The Gophers will host Purdue for homecoming at 11 a.m. next Saturday. The Boilermakers were without starting quarterback Aidan O’Connell against Florida Atlantic on Saturday night. He reportedly has a rib injury.

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