The Gophers said medical experts have advised the football program to not practice Tuesday due to “presumptive COVID-19 positive tests” Monday, the athletic department said in a statement.
While this puts Saturday’s game against Wisconsin in Madison in doubt, the U said “the team’s goal is to return to a regular practice schedule on Wednesday in preparation” for the game. “An update will be provided when additional test results are returned and more information is available.
On Friday, the Gophers said 20 players would be absent due to COVID-19 and injuries, and that number grew to 22 as kickoff against Purdue approached.
Head coach P.J. Fleck said earlier Monday about half of that number were associated with coronavirus testing, but those positives cases and ones with contact tracing stretches over a 21-day period players have to sit out to meet Big Ten protocols for the pandemic.
“It didn’t mean 22 players were testing positive on that day for COVID-19, they were medically unavailable,” Fleck said. This is how the Gophers were able to go ahead against the Boilermakers, which Minnesota ended up winning 34-31 at TCF Bank Stadium.
Fleck said Monday he couldn’t give an update on daily testing numbers going into Saturday’s game against Wisconsin, with Paul Bunyan’s Axe on the line at 1 p.m. at Camp Randall Stadium.
“We’re testing as we speak right now, guys, literally right now,” Fleck said earl Monday afternoon. “We’ll get those results back. Hopefully soon.”
Fleck said they are hopeful to get players back as they come out of the three-week period.
Fleck doesn’t share much on injury statuses, either, but there are two key ones headed in the Badgers game: running back Mo Ibrahim and safety Jordan Howden.
Ibrahim, the Big Ten’s leading rusher, exited in the fourth quarter, and Fleck said Friday that was the trainer’s decision, with an eye toward Ibrahim being available in future games.
Howden, a junior who has started all five games, left midway through the third quarter of Friday’s game, but ran back onto the field wearing a sweatsuit in the fourth.
Backup running back Trey Potts has missed the last two games after leaving the Illinois game with an apparent lower-leg injury.
The Gophers opened as a 21-point betting underdog against No. 18 Wisconsin, which fell eight spots after a 17-7 loss to Northwestern on Saturday.
Minnesota was a 10-point underdog when they beat the Badgers 37-15 in Madison in 2018.
ONE OF ROUGHLY 160
The offensive pass interference call that cost Purdue a go-ahead touchdown against Minnesota on Friday remained a topic of conversation Monday.
Boilermakers coach Jeff Brohm said he couldn’t share details of his talks with the Big Ten office, but said he hadn’t spoken to anyone who doesn’t agree with him that it was the wrong call.
“There was 160-plus plays in the game that made that game what that game was,” Fleck said. “And everybody’s still talking about one play. There was still a play after that play with time on the clock that our player made (Josh Aune’s interception), and there was a play before that play that we dropped an interception, and there was a few other penalties that, as both teams do, turn in to the Big Ten, for clarification. But again, there was 160-plus plays.”