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Minnesota Football’s path to sneak into a bowl game

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Here’s what has to happen for the Gophers to get into a bowl with a 5-7 record.

NCAA Football: Buffalo at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a fairly significant holiday in the middle of this week and so I’m writing this earlier, rather than later, in the week.

Can Minnesota get into a bowl with a 5-7 record? While it remains a possibility, it is not going to be easy.

As it stands there are 70 bowl eligible teams to fill 78 spots. So eight spots remain for 21 teams that could still get themselves to 6 wins. That seems daunting, but let’s narrow that list of 21 down a little bit.

  • 4 teams have two games remaining and have to go 2-0. I’m going to ignore those for now as generally a team sitting at 4-6 are going to have a tough time getting back to back wins. (Florida State, New Mexico State, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette)
  • Leaving us with 17 remaining teams, and all of them currently at 5-6. Now 8 of those 17 teams play against each other in the final week. This lowers the teams we need to pay attention to down to 9...BUT that also means 4 of those teams win and get to 6.
  • The numbers now are 9 potential teams to fill 4 spots, including the Gophers as one of those 9.
  • BUT WAIT...You have to include Vanderbilt. The Commodores are currently 4-7, but just might hold the APR advantage over the Gophers. So should they also get up to 5 wins, they “might” get in ahead of Minnesota.
  • Back to 9 10 potential teams to fill 4 spots. One of those teams is Duke, who has 5 wins and holds the APR advantage ahead of Minnesota. So regardless of what they do on Saturday, IF there are any openings for 5-7 teams they get in ahead of the Gophers.
  • Leaving the numbers back at 9 other potential teams for 3 spots. 8 teams, other than Minnesota.

Everyone keeping up?

So 8 teams are the ones we are paying attention to. We need 6 of those 8 to lose this weekend.

Looking Good for Us

  • Georgia Tech @ Georgia (10-1) - Go Bulldogs. This one seems like a safe bet to reduce our chances down to needing 5 of 7 teams to lose. Georgia is the favorite by 11 points.
  • Buffalo vs. Ohio (8-3) - The very same Buffalo team we beat in week 1, the Bulls are hosting Ohio who are holding out slim hopes of getting to the MAC Championship game. Ohio is a 4 point favorite, a spread closer than I’d like.
  • Tulane @ SMU (6-5) - the Green Wave have to go on the road to get their 6th win. SMU is favored by 7.5.
  • Texas Tech @ Texas (6-5) - So the Longhorns aren’t exactly a juggernaut, but I’m more optimistic with this game being in Austin. The Longhorns are 10 point favorites.
  • Vanderbilt @ Tennessee (4-7) - The Commodores need this one while Tennessee is being led by Brady Hoke in their final game. The Volunteers are favored by 1.

The Tighter Games to Stress Over

  • Louisiana Tech v. UT-San Antonio (6-4) - The Bulldogs get the home game against a Roadrunner team that’s already bowl eligible. And they are favored by 2.
  • Temple @ Tulsa (2-9) - The Golden Hurricanes are not very good this year and are hosting the Owls. Needing an upset here as the Owls are favored by only 3.5.
  • UNLV @ Nevada (2-9) - Another game where we are pinning our hopes on a 2-9 team getting the upset at home. Maybe they can get Colin Kaepernick to suit up and throw some darts to Nate Burleson. Believe it or not, the Wolfpack are favored by 2.5.

So it comes down to needing 6 of those 8 to lose. If everything falls according to the Vegas odds, we’d make it. This is your list of 8 games to pay close attention to this weekend. Of course the Gophers can eliminate any doubt by beating Wisconsin while being 17 point underdogs. Should they fall on Saturday? May the odds be ever in our favor.