There are plenty of reasons why Minnesota is off to a 9-0 start and is firmly in the mix for a B1G title and a College Football Playoff berth. But when P.J. Fleck is asked what makes this team so special, it really boils down to one word: leadership.

Minnesota notched an impressive win last Saturday, knocking off No. 4 Penn State. Now, with three games remaining and a legitimate chance to win the B1G, Fleck’s Gophers are being considered a serious contender in the national picture. Fleck says the leadership of the team is what has the program in such a good situation.

“That’s why we’re powerful, it’s the leadership of our football team,” Fleck said during his weekly presser.

After a suspect start to the season — needing late plays in the fourth quarter to beat South Dakota State, Fresno State and Georgia Southern –the Gophers have only gotten better each week. Minnesota defeated Illinois, Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers by a combined score of 168-41. And now, it has a top five win on its resumé.

Fleck attributes that growth and success to having an “elite” team.

“It’s an elite team, because they put their individual accomplishments aside for everyone else,” Fleck said. “They really love each other, they really sacrifice for each other.”

This week, the Gophers have a chance to get another quality win, traveling to Kinnick Stadium to play Iowa. Minnesota has lost the last four meetings against the Hawkeyes.

Saturday’s kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on FOX.