The Gophers will learn their bowl game fate on Sunday, but when it comes to being practical, their fate seems pretty much sealed -- even if their web site offers a bit of optimism.
Take a look at ESPN.com ... then SI.com ... the CBSsports.com ... and you'll find the same thing: the Gophers are projected to wind up back in Houston in the same bowl they played in last season -- called the Texas Bowl now, and formerly the Meineke Bowl.
What prompted our curiosity earlier in the day was an e-mail from the Gophers asking the same question as was posed on a link to their web site:
The Golden Gophers are eagerly anticipating bowl game selections, which will be announced this Sunday, December 8. We realize the level of commitment a bowl game takes in all aspects including time, travel, financial and planning, particularly surrounding the holiday season. The support from Gopher fans this season in the Twin Cities, in the state of Minnesota and across the nation is indescribable, and it is our hope that support continues to the post-season bowl game. We are asking for your feedback on the potential bowl games you will travel to once the bowl game is selected. This feedback is important and helpful to our cause in terms of our ability to communicate the expectations of Gopher fan support and attendance at the bowl game to the bowl selection committees. The likely potential bowl games for the Gophers, along with dates and locations are provided below. Your feedback is greatly appreciated, Go Gophers!
Which potential Gophers bowl game destination would you be most likely to attend?
Gator Bowl - Jacksonville, Fla. (Wednesday, January 1 / 11 am. Central)
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl - Tempe, Ariz. (Saturday, December 28 / 9:15 p.m. Central)
I do not plan to attend the Gopher Bowl game this year
Those two bowl games were the only options. No Texas Bowl in sight. But a spokesman for the U said not to read anything into it. The e-mail and corresponding survey are merely information-gathering tools. In other words, they don't know anything we don't know.
The smart money is that they will be playing Friday, Dec. 27 at 5 p.m. (Central) on ESPN in the Texas Bowl. They might even play Texas Tech again, just as they did in losing 34-31 a season ago.
If that seems like an unfair plight considering the Gophers have won two more games this season than a year ago, remember that Ohio State and Penn State, who would have been ahead of Minnesota in the bowl pecking order a year ago, were ineligible for the postseason so the Gophers landed in a better bowl than they normally would have. The school announced 3,163 tickets to last year's bowl game were sold through the university. It will be interesting to see if they can top that mark this year if Houston is, indeed, the destination again.