It might be unrealistic at this point, but if the Gophers win two of their remaining games they may be taking a trip to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL.
CBS’s Jerry Palm projects that the Minnesota football team will play Ole Miss in the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day. This would be quite the feat for a Minnesota team that has done a lot of growing up this season.
Getting into the Gator Bowl for the Gophers is a likely possibility.
Penn State is facing a four year bowl ban. They are 2-2 in the conference and vying with Minnesota for that fifth spot. But since they can’t reach a bowl a loss may not hurt the Gophers chances. (The fourth/fifth Big Ten team gets an invite to the Gator Bowl.)
The Gophers have beaten Nebraska, so if it comes down to a win/loss tie between the two teams in conference play, the Gophers will get the nod to play on New Year’s Day.
There is a few reasons why the Gophers may also fall flat to end the season.
The remaining schedule of Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State is brutal. These teams are the class of the Big Ten and the Gophers have struggled against them all in the last decade.
To win two-of-three the Gophers will have to keep the running game going strong. Quarterback Philip Nelson will be the teams x-factor down the stretch. Nelson had his finest game of the season throwing for four touchdown passes at Indiana. Running back David Cobb, who has been a pleasant surprise, will need to come up big also. The running game is the Gophers new identity and is the reason they have been a good team this season.
Minnesota will need to score and limit turnovers. Wisconsin and Penn State all score a lot of points and keep the time of possession in their favor. If the Gophers plan on beating Michigan State, who has one of the best defenses in the nation, they will need to get creative in the offense. The duo quarterbacks could be a weapon.
The Gophers are on a roll right now. I predict that Minnesota knocks off Penn State and Wisconsin to reach the Gator Bowl. I don’t see Minnesota beating Michigan State because the passing game has not been consistent enough all season to beat arguably the best defense in the nation.