Conference championship weekend in college football was proceeding with little tumult through Saturday's 11 a.m. games. Washington, No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings, beat No. 5 Oregon 34-31 to win the Pac-12 title on Friday night and likely secure a playoff spot. No. 7 Texas hammered Oklahoma State 49-21 Saturday to bolster its playoff argument.

Then came the game-changer: No. 8 Alabama outlasted No. 1 Georgia 27-24 to win the SEC championship and possibly end the Bulldogs' two-year reign as national champions. Later Saturday, No. 2 Michigan beat Iowa 26-0 in the Big Ten championship game, while No. 4 Florida State topped Louisville 16-6 for the ACC crown.

The College Football Playoff field will be announced Sunday during an 11 a.m. show on ESPN, followed at 1:30 p.m. by the remainder of the New Year's Six bowls. All remaining bowls will be announced beginning at 1:45 p.m.

Alabama's victory will cause a ripple effect in bowl assignments, and not only in the playoff and the New Year's Six games. Even the Gophers, who are 5-7 but will be in a bowl game because of their strong Academic Progress Rate score, could be impacted by the Crimson Tide's win.

Had Georgia beaten Alabama, the nine Big Ten bowl teams would have simply slotted into nine bowl spots. Now, there's a chance the ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa, Fla., will be added to the Big Ten's list. That would happen if the Orange Bowl lands the highest-rated nonplayoff SEC team instead of a Big Ten team. This scenario projects Georgia to be ranked higher than Ohio State. Should the Big Ten land three teams — Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State — in the New Year's Six, then the conference would have a spot that it could not fill with an eligible team. The odd bowl out would be the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26 in Detroit.

Just where might the Gophers be going? It's complicated, but two scenarios with three possible destinations could be in play.

First scenario: The ReliaQuest Bowl is filled by a Big Ten team, giving the Big Ten 10 spots for nine teams.

Gophers' projection: Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs. Kansas, 8 p.m. Dec. 26, Phoenix.

Minnesota played in this game at Chase Field two years ago, beating West Virginia 18-6. The Gophers have been regular visitors to the Phoenix/Tempe area, also playing there in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

A longer shot for the Gophers would be the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 23 against a Pac-12 team.

Representatives of the Guaranteed Rate Bowl and Las Vegas Bowl declined to comment on their selection process.

Second scenario: The Big Ten has a team in the Orange Bowl, taking away a ReliaQuest Bowl spot.

Gophers' projection: Quick Lane Bowl vs. Northern Illinois, 1 p.m. Dec. 26, Detroit.

Should this matchup happen, it would be the third time in nine years that the Gophers have played in the Quick Lane Bowl. In 2015, they were 5-7, got in on their APR score and beat Central Michigan 21-14. In 2018, they beat Georgia Tech 34-10.

Brad Michaels, executive director of the Quick Lane Bowl, would welcome the Gophers.

"We'd love to have Minnesota,'' he said. "They're the only 2-0 team in the Quick Lane Bowl.''

Despite the team's 5-7 record, Michaels said the Gophers showed some positives this season.

"They beat Iowa, and having a marquee win like that is something that sticks out,'' he said. "They've lost some close ones, and they've played a lot of competitive games. There's a lot to like about them.''

For the final projection, the view here is the first scenario plays out and the Gophers move up a spot to Phoenix. If not, they'll spend the day after Christmas in Detroit.

Bowl projections ahead of Sunday's announcements


Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.: No. 1 Michigan (13-0) vs. No. 4 Alabama (12-1)

Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1, New Orleans: No. 2 Washington (13-0) vs. No. 3 Texas (12-1)


Cotton, Dec. 29, Arlington, Texas: Ohio State (11-1) vs. Ole Miss (10-2)

Orange, Dec. 30, Miami Gardens, Fla.: Georgia (12-1) vs. Florida State (13-0)

Peach, Dec. 30, Atlanta: Liberty (13-0) vs. Penn State (10-2)

Fiesta, Jan. 1, Glendale, Ariz.: Oregon (11-2) vs. Missouri (10-2)


Citrus, Jan. 1, Orlando: Iowa (10-3) vs. Tennessee (8-4)

ReliaQuest, Jan. 1, Tampa, Fla.: Wisconsin (7-5) vs. Notre Dame (9-3)

Music City, Dec. 30, Nashville: Maryland (7-5) vs. Auburn (6-6)

Las Vegas, Dec. 23: Northwestern (7-5) vs. Utah (8-4)

Pinstripe, Dec. 28, New York: Rutgers (6-6) vs. Georgia Tech (6-6)

Guaranteed Rate, Dec. 26, Phoenix: Gophers (5-7) vs. Kansas (8-4)

Quick Lane, Dec. 26, Detroit: Unfilled by Big Ten