With Saturday’s 38-17 loss to Wisconsin, the Gophers missed a trip to the Big Ten championship game. So, where might they end up in bowl season? They won’t find out until Dec. 8, when the bowl pairings are announced.It’s complicated because the conference championship games still must be played, but there are possibilities that might have gone away and some remaining. Here is a look at those:
Rose Bowl Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.
Had the Gophers defeated Wisconsin, they would have bolstered their résumé to go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1961 season. Instead, their 21-point loss likely made this game a much longer shot.
The Rose Bowl committee has a strong preference that the highest-ranked available teams in the College Football Playoff rankings are its selections, but it can use other criteria, such as last time a team played in the bowl, head-to-head results, regular-season schedule, overall record, etc.
With the loss, the No. 8 Gophers could fall behind both No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 10 Penn State when the new rankings are released Tuesday. Minnesota must hope that the Rose Bowl committee is intrigued with a program and fan base that haven’t been to Pasadena in 58 years. That could be a big ask after Saturday’s loss.
Orange Bowl Dec. 30, Miami Gardens, Fla.
This bowl would seem to be an even longer shot for the Gophers. The Orange Bowl matches an ACC team, likely Virginia, against a team from either the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten or Notre Dame. Most bowl projections have focused on an SEC team — Georgia, Alabama and Florida as possibilities.
Citrus Bowl Jan. 1, Orlando
There’s a good chance the loss to Wisconsin dropped the Gophers into the mix of two New Year’s Day bowls in Florida – the Citrus and Outback. Minnesota played in the Citrus following the 2014 season, with a 33-17 loss to Missouri, and the bowl’s contract calls for selecting five different Big Ten teams over a six-year period. The opponent would be an SEC team, possibly Auburn.
Outback Bowl Jan. 1, Tampa, Fla.
The Gophers have not played in the Outback Bowl, and the bowl has a contract for five Big Ten schools in a six-year period. That might make Minnesota attractive to the Outback, which has had Wisconsin, Northwestern, Iowa (twice) and Michigan since 2014. The opponent would be from the SEC, with Texas A&M, Auburn and Tennessee among possibilities.