Later today, the Gophers will learn their bowl destination and opponent. Our latest Big Ten Bowl Projections still have the Gophers going back to Houston to play in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 27.
That's not an ideal situation for the Gophers, who played in that same bowl last year when it was called the Meineke Car Care Bowl, losing 34-31 to Texas Tech.
But the bowls can pick teams regardless of records. There's a selection order, and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28 in Tempe, Ariz.) or the Gator Bowl (Jan. 1 in Jacksonville, Fla.) are bound to take a 7-5 Michigan team over 8-4 Minnesota -- because it's all about filling seats and TV ratings.
For a long time, several projections had the Gophers facing Texas Tech again in Houston. It would have been tough generating much interest in that rematch, but that can be avoided if the Big 12 lands two teams in BCS Bowls. Baylor won the Big 12 title, assuring a Fiesta Bowl trip, and many projections now have Oklahoma going to the Sugar Bowl with an at-large berth.
That would let Texas Tech go to the Holiday Bowl -- as the last Big 12 selection -- and then the Texas Bowl could pick a team from another conference.
Our current projections have the Gophers playing Oregon State from the Pac-12. Washington State, coached by Mike Leach, is another possibility. So the opponent will be the most interesting component. Stay tuned.