Over 4,000 startribune.com readers voted this week in a poll about whether the 5-7 Gophers should accept a bowl bid, with the slightest majority possible — 51 percent — in favor of it. That 51 percent is almost certainly going to get their wish, and they might know that by dinnertime Saturday:

Three things need to happen for the Gophers to NOT get a bowl invitation:

1. Georgia State, a 21-point underdog, beats Georgia Southern in their game (1 p.m.) Saturday …

AND THEN ...

2. South Alabama, an 18-point underdog, beats Appalachian State in their game (6:30 p.m.) Saturday …

AND THEN (!) …

3. If those upsets somehow happen ... for the Gophers to not get an invite on Sunday, a bowl committee would have to decide San Jose State is a more attractive program than Minnesota and pick the Spartans for their game, that final remaining spot.

In other words: As soon as one of those favored three teams wins Saturday, you can assume the Gophers are going bowling.

Why is this the case?

Of the 80 spots available in the 40 bowl games, five are up for grabs because not enough teams got to six victories. Even if those two underdogs listed above win and get to six victories, that still leaves two spots. The remaining spots — whether it's two or five or in between — will be filled by 5-7 teams with the highest Academic Progress Report grades. Nebraska leads that APR list, so the Huskers will get one. Missouri and Kansas State are tied for second; the Tigers said this week that they won't play in a bowl, so Kansas State, playing Saturday, will get an invitation either by winning or by taking one of the three, or more, filler spots. That leaves (at least) one more spot, and the Gophers and San Jose State are tied for fourth in APR, so one of those schools will get invited — most likely, considering the point spreads in those games listed above, both will.

Bottom line

All three of the "what needs to happen" items are long shots. The circumstances and odds heavily favor the Gophers getting an invitation to a bowl game during Sunday's Bowl Selection Day.

Staff reports