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Bowl chances improve for 5-7 Gophers; say they'd welcome bid

At 5-7, the Gophers know they might not deserve a bowl berth. But it’s looking more and more like they’ll get picked, and coach Tracy Claeys said Monday that they would welcome the opportunity.

With 40 bowls, the NCAA has 80 spots to fill, and only 75 teams have qualified with six wins. Three more current 5-6 teams – Kansas State, Georgia State and South Alabama -- can qualify Saturday, though all are underdogs.

At least two, and up to five 5-7 teams will be needed to fill bowl spots. On Monday, the NCAA announced that the replacement teams will be picked based on highest Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores.

Of the potential pool of 5-7 teams, the Gophers are tied for fourth in APR. The top of the list goes Nebraska (985), Missouri (976), Kansas State (976), Minnesota (975), San Jose State (975), Illinois (973) and Rice (973).

Missouri announced that it would forgo a bowl if selected, which moved the Gophers up a peg. This means, if Georgia State and South Alabama lose Saturday – and both are at least 16-point underdogs to Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, respectively – the Gophers will get a bowl bid.

One advantage to a bowl game is teams are given 15 additional practices.

“I visited with the kids [Monday] night, and our kids coming back are excited about if we would get that opportunity,” Gophers coach Tracy Claeys said.

 “We are going to continue to lift weights and condition,” he added. “I think it would be great news, if we would have an opportunity to go to a bowl for our younger players.”

Claeys eyeing Sawvel for defensive coordinator job

Gophers coach Tracy Claeys confirmed Monday morning that he's leaning toward promoting defensive backs coach Jay Sawvel to defensive coordinator.

Sawvel, 44, made the defensive play calls after Claeys moved from defensive coordinator to head coach upon Jerry Kill's retirement Oct. 28.

"Obviously, I’m leaning that way" toward promoting Sawvel, Claeys said. "Gosh dang, Jay has been with me a long time, and he’s a heck of a coach. We just haven’t had time to sit down. I’ve said something to him in passing.

"On the defensive side of the ball, we aren’t worried about it. We get back in [from recruiting trips] on Dec. 14. We will sit and meet about it. We will release everything else with the rest of the staff. There shouldn’t be any surprises to anybody that that’s the way we are leaning."

Sawvel coached at Eastern Kentucky, Notre Dame and Ferris State before joining Claeys and Kill at Southern Illinois in 2001. Sawvel has been instrumental to the team's recruiting efforts and has helped turn the secondary into a team strength, while also serving as special teams coorinator.

The Gophers have had a safety picked in the NFL Draft each of the past two years -- Brock Vereen and Cedric Thompson. Senior cornerbacks Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun are both considered NFL prospects, with Murray a potential high-round pick.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Clemson at Gophers men's basketball

    8 pm on ESPN2, 1500-AM

  • Wild at Chicago

    7 pm on NBCSN, 100.3-FM

  • Orlando at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Gophers women's basketball at Duke

    6 pm on 1500-AM

  • Toronto at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Ohio State at Gophers men's hockey

    7 pm on FSN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Wisconsin

    7:07 pm

  • South Dakota at Gophers men's basketball

    2 pm on 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Wisconsin

    3:07 pm

  • Colorado at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Ohio State at Gophers men's hockey

    7 pm on ESPNEWS, 1500-AM

  • Portland at Timberwolves

    7:05 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

  • Seattle at Vikings

    12 pm on Ch. 9, 100.3/1130

  • Towson at Gophers women's basketball

    7 pm on 1500-AM

  • L.A. Clippers at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Wild at Colorado

    8 pm on FSN PLUS, 100.3-FM

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