For the third time in nine years, the Gophers are going to Detroit for a bowl game.
Bowl assignments were announced Sunday, and the Quick Lane Bowl selected the Gophers, who will play Bowling Green (7-5) at 1 p.m. Dec. 26 at Ford Field.
The Gophers closed the regular season with a four-game losing streak to fall to 5-7 but qualified for a bowl game because there were only 81 six-win teams to fill the 82 bowl slots, and their Academic Progress Rate score was the best among five-win teams.
It appeared the Gophers might be headed to the Guaranteed Rate Bowl for the second time in three years because they were the last Big Ten team left for the Phoenix-based bowl to pick. Instead, contractual language ended up sending Minnesota to Detroit.
Because the Gophers didn't win six games, they weren't technically considered to be bowl eligible by the Big Ten. The Guaranteed Rate Bowl's contract with the Big Ten allows the bowl to pick a Mountain West team to fill its spot if there aren't enough bowl-eligible Big Ten teams. That happened, and the Guaranteed Rate Bowl selected UNLV of the Mountain West to face Kansas of the Big 12.
The Guaranteed Rate's situation left the Quick Lane Bowl with the chance to select Minnesota, which it did.
The Gophers are 2-0 in the Quick Lane Bowl, beating Central Michigan 21-14 in 2015 when they advanced with a 5-7 record based on their APR score, and topping Georgia Tech 34-10 in 2018 to finish 7-6.
Bowling Green has won five of its past six games and finished in third place in the Mid-American Conference's East Division. The Gophers and Falcons have split four meetings, with Bowling Green winning the last one, 14-10 in 2021 at Huntington Bank Stadium when Minnesota was a 31-point favorite.
Another memorable Gophers-Falcons matchup happened in 2007. Tim Brewster, making his Gophers coaching debut, famously plopped down on the Metrodome turf on his stomach, nearly spread eagle, while Bowling Green scored a two-point conversion in overtime to beat Minnesota 32-31.
Bowling Green will be in the Quick Lane Bowl for the second consecutive season, having lost 24-19 to New Mexico State last year.
This will be the Gophers' fifth bowl trip in seven seasons under coach P.J. Fleck, and they have won the previous four. Overall, the Gophers have a six-game bowl winning streak and a bowl record of 11-12.
Brad Michaels, executive director of the Quick Lane Bowl, on Friday said the bowl would love to have the Gophers. He added that the Gophers being in Detroit for the third time in nine years wouldn't be a concern.
"It's been spread out," Michaels said. "I sure don't think people wouldn't go to the game because they were here five years ago."
The Gophers have been a strong attendance draw for the game. The second- and third-highest announced attendance figures for the bowl have occurred when Minnesota has played in it — 34,217 in 2015 and 27,228 in 2018.
"Minnesota fans travel," Michaels said.
Jackson announces return
Gophers wide receiver Daniel Jackson, who leads the team with 57 catches for 831 yards and eight touchdowns, announced on the X platform that he is returning to the team for his senior season in 2024, citing an agreement with Dinkytown Athletes, the program's official Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) collective.
Jackson, who earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, has 131 receptions for 1,822 yards and 14 touchdowns in his career.