The Minnesota Golden Gophers are now bowl-eligible after spending last winter stuck at home. Minnesota notched their sixth win of the season by beating Wisconsin on the road and re-claiming Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the first time in over a decade.
So where will the Gophers head for the winter?
Well, nine Big Ten teams are bowl-eligible:
- Ohio State (11-1)
- Michigan (10-2)
- Penn State (9-3)
- Northwestern (8-4)
- Iowa (8-4)
- Michigan State (7-5)
- Wisconsin (7-5)
- Minnesota (6-6)
- Purdue (6-6)
Ohio State and Northwestern will battle for the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis next Saturday. The Buckeyes are now in the conversation for a potential College Football Playoff berth after defeating Michigan, coupled with losses by LSU and Washington State. With the exception of Notre Dame, every team currently ahead of Ohio State in last week’s playoff committee rankings that did not lose on Saturday — Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Central Florida — is playing for a championship next week. Things could get interesting.
Obviously, whether the Big Ten sends a team to the College Football Playoff or sees two teams earn bids to the New Year’s Six will have a ripple effect on the rest of the bowl invitations. The conference has bowl partnerships with:
- Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, Pasadena, CA
- Cotton Bowl, Dec. 29, Arlington, TX
- Citrus Bowl, Jan. 1, Orlando, FL
- Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, Tampa, FL
- Holiday Bowl, Dec. 31, San Diego, CA
- Music City Bowl, Dec. 28, Nashville, TN
- TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, Dec. 31, Jacksonville, FL
- Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 27, Bronx, NY
- Redbox Bowl, Dec. 31, Santa Clara, CA
- Quick Lane Bowl, Dec. 26, Detroit, MI
- First Responder Bowl, Dec. 26, Dallas, TX
As of right now, I would not be surprised to see the Gophers in either the Redbox Bowl or the Quick Lane. But we’ll see what sort of chaos next Saturday brings.
ESPN has not released their updated bowl projections yet — neither of their “experts” expected Minnesota to beat Wisconsin based on their previous week’s projections — but CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, and SB Nation updated their projections this morning.
CBS Sports: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Virginia
Sports Illustrated: Quick Lane Bowl vs. Virginia
SB Nation: Pinstripe Bowl vs Pittsburgh