The Gophers football team climbed to No. 17 in the AP poll and No. 16 in the coaches’ poll Sunday, following a five-touchdown victory at Rutgers.
The AP ranking is Minnesota’s highest since it was No. 13 in 2004.
Entering this weekend, the Gophers were at No. 20 in both polls, and before that they hadn’t been ranked in the AP Top 25 since 2014.
The Gophers are 7-0 overall for the first time since 1960 and 4-0 in Big Ten play. They are one of 10 unbeaten FBS teams.
On Saturday, they are at home against a 3-4 Maryland team. Minnesota will have a bye following the Maryland game before playing host on Nov. 9 to Penn State, which climbed to No. 6 in the latest AP poll. Wisconsin fell from No. 6 to No. 13 after a stunning loss at Illinois.
The Gophers will continue to evaluate injured linebacker Kamal Martin, whose playing status remains uncertain despite at least one good sign, coach P.J. Fleck said during his weekly appearance on WCCO Radio.
“No update on Kamal Martin,” Fleck said, a day after the team’s 42-7 victory at Rutgers. “No matter what happens, he’s going to be OK.”
Martin, a senior from Burnsville, grabbed his right knee a third-quarter play and was eventually carted off the field, with his teammates clearly concerned.
Entering the game, Martin led the team with 41 tackles and added five more before the injury.
“We’ve got some things we’ve got to do [Sunday] and [Monday] to find out [Martin’s status],” Fleck told WCCO. “But he felt good, he said, walking off the bus — our trainers felt good. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything’s OK. So we’ll continue to follow his progress.”
Tight end update
The Gophers were without two injured tight ends against Rutgers — Ko Kieft and Jake Paulson.
“They’ll both be back this week, which is really good for us,” Fleck told WCCO. Not having them at Rutgers, “gave [fellow tight ends] Brevyn Spann-Ford and Bryce Witham a chance to show what they can do.”
The Gophers announced that Saturday’s matchup against Maryland will be a Mental Health Awareness Game. Minnesota players will wear green ribbons on their helmets, and the stadium will show videos focused on destigmatizing mental health.
“Mental health is one of the most important topics in today’s society and it should be one of the most talked about as well,” Fleck said in a news release.
Megan Ryan’s Insider will appear in Tuesday’s edition.