The Gophers had a chance to guarantee a bowl bid with a win against the Badgers on Saturday, but we all know how that went. Minnesota ended the regular season with a record of 5-7, which would have effectively closed the door on a potential bowl game if not for the fact that there are more bowl games than teams with a .500 or better record.
At the moment, there are 75 teams with a record of 6-6 or better, with 80 bowl bids up for grabs. That leaves up to 5 open spots for teams with sub-.500 records, including Minnesota. Next Saturday, there are three 5-6 teams in play with a chance to scoring that coveted sixth win. Those teams are Kansas State, Georgia State, and South Alabama, all of whom are the underdogs in their matchups. There are nine other teams -- including the Gophers -- stuck at five wins on the season.
So who will decide which 5-7 teams are extended bowl bids? The NCAA's Football Oversight Committee. They are expected to make a decision this week, but the previous plan was to use Academic Progress Rate (APR) to determine the pecking order. But will bowl games be beholden to their conference affiliation when choosing from the crop of 5-7 teams? Will the best bowl game have to pick the 5-7 team with the best APR? We'll have to wait for clarification on such things.
Based on the 2013-14 APR, here is where the Gophers stand according to that simple criteria:
985 -- Nebraska (5-7)
976 -- Missouri (5-7)
976 -- Kansas State (5-6)
975 -- Minnesota (5-7)
975 -- San Jose State (5-7)
973 -- Illinois (5-7)
973 -- Rice (5-7)
Geography will also be factor, according to ESPN and Andy Greder at the Pioneer Press. There have been isolated instances of 5-7 teams receiving bowl bids in the past, but this is a bit of unprecedented scenario, so it'll be interesting to see what the committee decides.
CBS Sports is feeling confident about the Gophers' chances, projecting them for the Pinstripe Bowl in a matchup with the NC State Wolfpack.
But even if the Gophers end up with a bowl bid, they are by no means obligated to accept the invite. It is possible the players and coaches decided to call it a season, though I'd venture to guess that no coaching staff would turn down the 15 extra practices that come with a bowl game. But who knows. There is also the question of whether or not Gopher fans would even be interested in traveling to a lower tier bowl game, especially with the lack of enthusiasm surrounding a football program that lost 5 of their last 6 games.