Grumbling hides banner Big Ten year

All the angst over Minnesota's Sun Bowl bid has obscured the fact that the Big Ten had a record-setting year on the gridiron. Also, get ready to check out J Robinson's Gopher grapplers at Target Center.

Although the Gopher football team would have liked a better bowl berth, slipping to the Sun Bowl can be directly attributed to events basically beyond their control -- namely, that the Big Ten had eight bowl-eligible teams this year, a record for the conference.

Minnesota fell to the Sun Bowl, reserved for the fourth non-BCS Big Ten team, with Michigan and Ohio State landing BCS bids. Of the six remaining bowl-eligible teams (that's 6-6 or better) in the conference, Iowa and Purdue are playing on New Year's Day bowls, Michigan State leapfrogged the Gophers for the Alamo Bowl, Wisconsin will represent the Big Ten in the Music City Bowl -- where the Gophers beat Arkansas last year -- and Northwestern returns to postseason action for the first time in three years with a berth in the Motor City Bowl.

"Eight programs earning bowl bids is a testament to the quality of the football in our Conference," said Big Ten Commissioner Jim. Delany. "We are blessed with teams that can compete at the highest levels of college football and are fortunate to have great bowl relationships that can provide quality experiences for our student-athletes. Having concluded an exciting league race with tremendous fan turnout, this has been a phenomenal year for the Big Ten and we expect more outstanding football during the bowl season."

Wrestlers head to Target Center

J Robinson's Gopher wrestlers, ranked ninth in the country by Intermat, will host No. 2 Iowa State at the Target Center Friday night. The Gophers are coming off a disappointing seventh-place finish at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday.

Numerous exhibitions and fan-friendly events will take place before and during the meet. Former Gopher all-American Brandon Paulson will wrestle five-time Danish national champion Hakan Nyblom in a Greco-Roman exhibition match during the meet's intermission.

Former NCAA heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and his Gopher teammate Shelton Benjamin -- a two-time all-American -- will be on hand to sign autographs before the dual. KFAN morning host Mike Morris and former Gopher Tim Hartung will emcee the event, which will feature pyrotechnics, highlight videos and live interviews with coaches and athletes.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the wrestling will begin at 7 p.m.

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