We've reached the time of year when people who want to show off their college football expertise start putting together their projections for the 42 bowl games that will be played after the regular season ends. Basically, any team that wins six games will get a bid -- with some 5-7 teams going if there aren't enough willing six-victory teams to go around.
That's how the 5-7 Gophers got to the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit last year. Remember?
The Gophers should get a bowl upgrade this year. Of course, just about anything would be an upgrade from the Quick Lane Bow, right?
Obviously, the Gophers place in the bowl hierarchy will be determined greatly by what happens in their next three games -- tough ones against Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin, with only the Wildcats game being at home. We'll remind you here that if the Gophers manage to win all three of those, they'll win the Big Ten West and play in the conference title game against Michigan or Ohio State.
Win that game -- however unlikely that seems -- and the mystery ends with the Gophers going to the Rose Bowl.
And we'll also remind you that finishing 7-5 will likely relegate Minnesota to a bowl that will be followed mainly by the fans of the participating schools.
With those disclaimers on the table, here's a look at where some of the experts have Minnesota going right now:
Jerry Palm, CBSsports.com: vs. Stanford in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 27.
Sports Illustrated: vs. Florida in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2
College Football News: vs. USC in the Holiday Bowl.
Jason Kirk of SBNation.com: vs. Colorado in the Holiday Bowl
Bleacher Report: vs. Wake Forest in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City on Dec. 28.
USA Today: vs. Miami, Fla. in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Campus Insiders: vs. Colorado in the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, Cal. on Dec. 28.
Here's the list of bowl games that have an agreement of one sort or another to feature teams from the Big Ten.
And here's the list of all 42 bowl games on the schedule.
Whatever happens, 10 weeks into the college football season, it's a sure bet that Minnesota will do better than a trip to Michigan to play a team from the Mid-America Conference.