Minnesota Football: Gopher Bowl Projections- Week 13

Scott Halleran

Where does everyone think we're headed?

The Gophers lost to Wisonsin, and yet in the eyes of "Bowl Projectionists" their bowl chances actually didn't change much. There's two reasons for that, which we'll get to following the B1G bowls and order/rules of selection (Rules of Selection per Adam Rittenberg of the ESPN.com B1G blog):

Rose Bowl Presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA, 4pm, E!SPN
B1G Champ vs Pac 12 Champ

Selects Big Ten champion unless the champion finishes No. 1 or No. 2 in the final BCS standings

Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1
Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL, 12PM, ABC
B1G #2 vs SEC #2

Bowl may select any eligible team after Rose Bowl Game/BCS except a team that has two fewer wins or two more losses (in all games) than another eligible team. This rule applies whether there are one or two Big Ten teams in BCS bowls.

Outback Bowl, Jan 1
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL, 12pm E!SPN
B1G #3 vs SEC #3

Bowl may select any eligible team after Rose Bowl Game/BCS except a team that has two fewer wins or two more losses (in all games) than another eligible team. This rule applies whether there are one or two Big Ten teams in BCS bowls.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec 28
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ, 9:15pm E!SPN:
B1G #4 vs Big 12 #4
May select any eligible team after Outback Bowl

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan 1
Everbank Field, Jacksonville, FL, 11am E!SPN2
B1G #5 vs SEC #6

May select any eligible team after Insight BWW Bowl

Texas Bowl, Dec 27
Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX, 5pm E!SPN
B1G #6 vs Big 12 #6
May select any eligible team after TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl

Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan 1
Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX, 11am, E!SPNU
B1G #7 vs C-USA
May select any eligible team after Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Bowl

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec 26
Ford Field, Detroit, MI, 5pm E!SPN
B1G #8 vs MAC #2
May select any eligible team

Now that we have that out of the way, here's 13 Gopher bowl projections for Week 13:

Athlon: Gator Bowl vs Ole Miss

BTN: Texas Bowl vs Kansas State

CBS Sports: Texas Bowl vs Kansas State

College Football News/Scout: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl vs Oklahoma

ESPN: Brad Edwards- Gator vs Georgia
Mark Schlabach- Texas Bowl vs Kansas State

ESPN.com B1G Blog: Gator Bowl

National Football Post: Gator Bowl vs Georgia

Off Tackle Empire: *

Phil Steele: *

SB Nation: Gator Bowl vs Ole Miss

Sports Illustrated: Texas Bowl vs K-State

The Sporting News: Texas Bowl vs Texas Tech

USA Today: Texas Bowl vs Kansas State

Yahoo!: Gator Bowl vs Georgia

Minnesota's Week 12 "Consensus" Bowl? Gator Bowl AND Texas Bowl

Gator (6 votes)
Texas (6 votes)
BWW (1 vote)

Last Week: Gator Bowl

* OTE & Phil Steele hadn't posted their Week 13 projections when I finished writing this Wednesday morning.

The Texas Bowl is now a dead heat with the Gator for Minnesota's bowl destination. The fact Minnesota lost and Iowa won last week have caused the Gophers to drop for some. However, working in The U's favor is that not only did Wisconsin and Michigan State win but Oregon and Baylor both lost, severely hurting the Pac 12 and Big 12's chances of getting two teams into the BCS. Wisconsin, and to a lesser extent Michigan State, are now a favorite by most sites to give the B1G a second BCS team, which would move everybody up in the pecking order.

While that may give B1G teams more exposure by moving up to better bowls, you also run the risk of worse teams playing better opponents in the better bowls, meaning more losses for the B1G schools. This may not be the case for Minnesota, however: As long as the B1G gets two schools into the BCS, the Gophers would avoid the Heart O' Dallas bowl and a C-USA opponent, and AT WORST go back to the Texas Bowl. Because the B1G would not fill all of their bowl obligations, if Minnesota is the only remaining bowl eligible B1G team then the Texas Bowl would have to take them, even though it would put the Gophs in that bowl for the second year in a row.

I would guess that if that happened, then that bowl game would do everything it could to NOT take Texas Tech to avoid a rematch of last year's game. However, the Texas Bowl gets sixth choice of Big 12 teams, and if you look at the current standings, they're only going to have six bowl eligible teams. Notice who's tied for fifth? K-State and Texas Tech. K-State is virtually guaranteed a win vs hapless Kansas, while Texas Tech, who have lost four straight, is in tough at Texas on Thanksgiving night. If the Red Raiders lose five straight games heading into a bowl, I don't see any chance of the bowl with the fifth selection of Big 12 teams passing on Kansas State for Texas Tech. Not a chance, actually.

So yes, Gopher fans, we could be seeing a complete rematch of last season's bowl game, which would certainly hurt attendance for Minnesota fans (though the game in Houston being relatively close to Lubbock should mean plenty of TTU fans making the trek to fill most of the seats), but would give Minnesota a really good chance to win their bowl game. The Gophers are a better team than last December, while the Red Raiders are reeling. While it should be noted Texas Tech's four losses have come to #18 Oklahoma, #7 Oklahoma State, K-State, and #9 Baylor, all but the loss to the Sooners were blowouts, so it's not even like they've played particularly well the past three weeks.

It's not my ideal bowl scenario for Minnesota, but it might be their best chance for a bowl victory.

Whether Minnesota ends up fifth or sixth in the B1G bowl selection order depends on a few things this weekend. Iowa's win over Michigan has them leapfrogging Minnesota in the selection order on just about every site. And rightfully so. The Hawkeyes and Gophers now have the same amount of wins in the B1G (4), and Iowa not only has the upper hand in perceived traveling fan bases, but they also beat Minnesota straight up earlier in the season. If Iowa beats Nebraska on Friday it would give them five conference wins and eight victories overall, and I don't see anyway the Gophers get taken ahead of them. For Minnesota to jump the Hawkeyes they need to beat Michigan State on Saturday to get to nine conference wins and five B1G victories AND have Iowa lose to Nebraska.

Their other conference competition comes from Michigan, losers of four of their past six and are pretty much assured of losing to Ohio State. If that happens they'll finish AT BEST one victory behind Minnesota in both B1G wins (3) and overall wins (7). While Michigan is Michigan and also holds a blowout victory over the Gophers, there's a real stench around Ann Arbor right now as Wolverines fans are getting cranky with head coach Brady Hoke fast. You'd have to be an idiot to think Hoke gets fired only three seasons into his tenure, but his coaching seat will certainly be warm to start year four next season, and the question is, will bowl games want all the negativity surrounding Michigan?

I still say yes, because they'll travel well and get good TV ratings no matter what because whatever else is happening, they're still Michigan. In my opinion Minnesota's only real chance to stay ahead of the Wolverines is to beat Michigan State, which remains a pretty tall order. Still, the ESPN B1G Blog boys think win or lose Minnesota will be able to sell themselves enough to the Gator Bowl to stay ahead of Michigan. I have my doubts, but we shall see.

Regardless, assuming Wisconsin and Ohio State win this weekend as they're supposed to, that would virtually guarantee two B1G teams in the BCS, assuring Minnesota won't have to play in the Heart of Texas Bowl in Dallas.

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