Well, the Rose Bowl will have wait at least another year. But the Minnesota Golden Gophers will almost certainly be rewarded for their 10-win season, and the bowl predictors expect to see them on a plane to the Sunshine State to ring in the New Year.
The potential matchup I find most intriguing is Tennessee. Jeremy Pruitt was hired amid the turmoil from a bungled coaching search that saw the school’s athletic director fired and replaced by Phillip Fulmer before a new head coach was even named. The second-year head coach came under fire earlier this year following a season-opening loss to Georgia State that precipitated a 1-4 start. But the Volunteers have won six of their last seven games to become bowl-eligible and finish 3rd in the SEC East, quieting some of Pruitt’s critics for the time being.
Minnesota and Tennessee have only ever met once before, and that was in the 1986 Liberty Bowl. The Johnny Majors-coached Vols opened up a 14-0 lead in the first half before John Gutekunst’s Gophers stormed back to tie it at 14-14 in the fourth quarter. Tennessee re-claimed the lead with a touchdown on the very next drive, holding on for the 21-14 victory.