Glen Mason's squad tied for fourth in the Big Ten, but there are no guarantees where they'll wind up. A lot depends on whether the BCS will take Ohio State as an at-large member of their final eight-team pack for the Big Four bowls. Then, bowls have some discretion in picking their teams based on who travels well, attractive matchups, and the like.
Let's assume that first-place Michigan goes to the Rose Bowl, and the BCS takes second-place Ohio State for the Fiesta Bowl. That leaves the two New Year's Day bowls in Florida (Outback and Capital One) to take the next two Big Ten schools – third-place Purdue, and – presumably – Iowa, which tied with Minnesota and Michigan State for fourth but has a better overall record than MSU, beat the Gophers, and is ranked in the Top 15 nationally.
That leaves the Alamo Bowl, with the Gophers and MSU fighting it out for the right to play in San Antonio against the Big 12's No. 4 team (currently projected to be Nebraska or Oklahoma State). Michigan State beat the Gophers head-to-head and has a reputation for sending more fans to bowl games. But the Gophers have a better record (9-3 vs. 8-4) and folks in San Antonio might remember the way Goldy's Gang showed up in droves for the 1997 Midwest Regional hoops tournament.
(You remember, the one that never happened?)
The loser in the UM-MSU battle would fall to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, taking on the Pac 10's third-place team, most likely Oregon. A rematch of the 1999 Sun Bowl and a shot for revenge might be some solace for Gopher fans, but clearly a trip to San Antonio would be much more appealing.
Here's what other sites are projecting:
collegefootballnews.com: Alamo Bowl, Gophers vs. Nebraska
sportsline.com: Sun Bowl, Gophers vs. Oregon
collegefootballwire.com: Sun Bowl, Gophers vs. Oregon
foxsports.com: Alamo Bowl, Gophers vs. Nebraska
Where will Gophers go bowling?
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