MAJOR STEPS

If the Gophers keep winning, the games are just going to keep getting bigger. A look at what’s ahead if they keep this up:

Next Saturday: The de facto Big Ten West title game — Gophers (10-1, 7-1) vs. Wisconsin (9-2, 6-2) at TCF Bank Stadium. The Badgers had a 14-game winning streak against Minnesota until last year, when the Gophers re-claimed Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

Dec. 7: The Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis. No. 2 Ohio State (11-0, 8-0) clinched the East Division title Saturday but will have its annual showdown with Michigan next week before playing either the Gophers or the Badgers.

Dec. 28: The College Football Playoff semifinals with one game in Atlanta and one in Glendale, Ariz. The CFP selection committee will pick the four teams that make it on Dec. 8. The Gophers fell from No. 8 to No. 10 in the rankings with their Iowa loss but would be very hard to leave out of the playoff if they defeat Wisconsin and Ohio State.

Jan. 1: The Rose Bowl. The Gophers haven’t been there since 1962, so this would be no small consolation prize. If a Big Ten team makes the playoff, the Rose Bowl must select another Big Ten team, and the same goes for the Pac-12. The Gophers would be in strong position to reach Pasadena with a win over Wisconsin, even if Minnesota loses the Big Ten title game to Ohio State.

JOE CHRISTENSEN