The experts who have updated their college football bowl game projections after Saturday’s games are convinced the Gophers are going to Florida for a bowl game.
The questions are which one and who will they play? The debate about which game right now is pretty much between the Citrus Bowl in Orlando vs. the Outback Bowl in Tampa, both of which have a noon kickoff on New Year's Day.
The final answer will be known on Sunday, when the four teams selected for the College Football Playoff are announced, followed by the eight others who will play in the rest of the New Year’s Six games that draw the nation’s next tier of elite teams.
The Gophers will fit in just below that group – and a long way from the bowl games that have been their destination, for the most part, in recent years.
One thing to note: Even though the conventional wisdom has boiled down to one of two games, the quality of the opposition could determine how much buzz there'll be around the game. Minnesota could face the team currently ranked No. 7 in the latest Associated Press poll. Or a team that's not even ranked.
Even though we're highly skeptical, we've also included in a series of events put together by a Big Ten writer that still has Minnesota with a slight chance of going to the Rose Bowl.
Here’s a look at what's being written right now.
Brad Crawford at 24/7 Sports puts the Gophers in Orlando, playing in the Citrus Bowl against No. 11 Auburn, an interesting match-up after the Tigers ended any hope for Alabama to return to the playoffs on Saturday. Saturday's Down South, a web site that tracks teams in the SEC, also has that match-up, as does College Football News. (The Gophers lost to Missouri in the Citrus Bowl at the end of the 2014 season.)
Bill Bender of The Sporting News also has a Gophers vs. Auburn matchup, but in the Outback. (He has Penn State playing Florida in the Citrus.)
Want to see a projection that has Minnesota (possibly) still going to the Rose Bowl? It comes from Allentown Morning Call, which covers Penn State football. Mark Rogenwich writes about the decision facing the Rose Bowl if Ohio State, as expected, gets a spot in the College Football Playoff:
"If Ohio State beats Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, the Rose Bowl will select a replacement team. The Rose Bowl says that its 'strong preference' is to select the conference’s next-highest-ranked team. But, in what it calls a 'cluster' situation, the Rose Bowl can factor in other criteria, such as a team’s last Rose Bowl appearance, head-to-head results, regular-season schedule, opponents played, etc.
"And that’s how Wisconsin, or maybe even Minnesota, could get the Rose Bowl invitation over Penn State. The Big Ten this year certainly qualifies as a “cluster” situation. Penn State, Wisconsin and Minnesota will be ranked in the 10-13 range. Any of the three would be a fine choice."
Here's the rest of Rogenwich's article, including the cases for and against the Gophers, Badgers and Nittany Lions.
It's an outlier, absolutely, but Gophers fans (and tour operators) can dare to dream, if they wish.