Minnesota Football- Gophers Bowl Projections- Week 14

Scott Halleran

Our last week of projections says the Gophers are likely bound for Houston. Or Jacksonville. Anything but Dallas.

Despite a second straight strong performance from their defense, the Golden Gophers lost to a ranked foe in Michigan State 14-3. Minnesota will finish Jerry Kill's third regular season at 8-4 overall and 4-4 in the B1G, an impressive jump from last season. Still, it looks like the Gophers will not only play in the same bowl as last season, but likely against the very same opponent. Can you say rematch? One particular bowl is hoping not. We've given you the full B1G bowl run-down in recent weeks, but for this one we'll just give the three that Minnesota has a chance of landing in- no matter how remote the possibility for two of them...

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

Which of the three will Minnesota land in? After a tie last week, our projectionists had no such problem coming to a consensus this week:

Athlon: Texas Bowl vs Texas Tech

BTN: Gator Bowl vs Vanderbilt

CBS Sports: Texas Bowl vs Texas Tech

College Football News/Scout: Gator Bowl vs Georgia

ESPN: Brad Edwards- Texas Bowl vs Texas Tech
Mark Schlabach- Texas Bowl vs Boston College (?!?!?)

ESPN.com B1G Blog: Texas Bowl

National Football Post: Texas Bowl vs Texas Tech

Off Tackle Empire: Texas Bowl vs Texas Tech

Phil Steele: Texas Bowl vs Texas Tech

SB Nation: Gator Bowl vs Georgia

Sports Illustrated: Texas Bowl vs Texas Tech

The Sporting News: BWW Bowl vs Oklahoma

USA Today: Texas Bowl vs Texas Tech

Yahoo!: Texas Bowl vs Texas Tech

Minnesota's Week 14 "Consensus" Bowl? Texas Bowl

Texas (11 votes)
Gator (3 votes)
BWW (1 vote)

Last Week: Gator and Texas Bowl

Gee (not Gordon), notice a trend at all? Despite being two wins better overall and in conference, it's looking VERY likely the Gophers will not only be back in Houston for the Texas Bowl for the second straight year, but will be playing the same opponent as last year in the Texas Tech Red Raiders (GUNS UP! Pew! Pew! Pew! Look at us, we're children pretending to be cowboys!). Only four sites didn't have Minnesota landing in the Texas Bowl, and while I love their moxy and confidence in our Gophers, I think they're wrong (especially The Sporting News thinking the Gophs will jump Nebraska AND Michigan to the BWW? There's a better chance of 75 degree weather here in St Paul tomorrow than that happening).

Of the six bowl eligible teams in the B1G including the Maroon and Gold, Michigan is the only school with less B1G and overall victories. And while their season has been a smoldering dumpster fire of disappointment, they're still Michigan, one of the biggest brand names in sports. Oh, and they also clobbered Minnesota in early October. I just don't see any way the Gator or BWW passes up Michigan for the Gophers. Ditto Nebraska, though their season has also been a disappointment and Minnesota did beat them this season. But Big Red travels in force for bowl games, and even with a fan base that's WAY down on their coach, they'll still likely pack the place and draw better TV ratings than Minnesota would.

Still, it could be worse- the Gophers are guaranteed to miss the Little Caesar's Bowl in Detroit (not enough B1G eligible teams) and seem almost assured of missing the Heart O' Dallas Bowl against a C-USA school. As long as Ohio State and Michigan State make it to the BCS, then the Texas Bowl is the worst Minnesota can do. The only way that doesn't happen is if MSU gets blown off the field in Indy, dropping them out of the top 14 in the BCS Standings and out of consideration for the Rose Bowl. If Sparty upsets the Buckeyes, a one-loss OSU would still make a BCS bowl somewhere.

So unless Minnesota AD Norwood Teague is the greatest salesman ever (there's definitely a chance he may be), the Gophers are Houston bound again. What are the chances they would play TTU again? Unfortunately, really, really good. Like the B1G, the Big 12 only has six bowl eligible teams, the Texas Bowl has sixth choice, and based on their record (7-5, 4-5) the Red Raiders seem like the sixth best team in that conference. This week the Dallas Morning News looked at TTU's most likely bowl destination, and came to the same conclusion as everybody else. K-State is the team Texas Tech realistically has a shot to jump in the selection order, but considering the Wildcats not only won one more conference game but also destroyed the Red Raiders 49-26 earlier this year, well, it's not so realistic.

Basically the only scenarios we have of avoiding the same bowl and same opponent as last year for the Gophers is the B1G only getting one BCS team (which would put Minnesota in a much worse bowl in Dallas), or the Big 12 getting two in #6 Oklahoma State and #9 Baylor. Both of those schools have enormous games this Saturday as Okie State plays the Bedlam game vs #17 OU while the Bears host #25 Texas, yet it's probably not going to matter. As long as Florida State and Ohio State win, then it only leaves five at-large spots, and really only one is available- Michigan State would fill one in the Rose Bowl, Clemson would take FSU's spot in the Orange, and UCF and Northern Illinois would claim two more as AAC Champion (I will not miss that league's auto berth in the system) and the "Best of the Rest". The final spot would unquestionably go to Alabama. Oh, I suppose NIU could get upset in the #MACTION Championship game Friday night by Bowling Green, but I wouldn't count on it.

Then again, as we saw last weekend, anything can- and often does- happen in college football. But if you're a betting man (or woman), expect to see the Gophers in Houston vs Texas Tech- again- on Dec 27th.

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