Minnesota Still Has Rose Bowl Hopes Despite Loss

The Minnesota Gophers' chances of making it to the Rose Bowl took a severe hit with their heart-breaking 27-24 loss to Michigan. However, Minnesota still has a chance to land in Pasadena, if the cards fall the right way. GoldenSports.Net looks at what the Gophers need to happen, if they are going to make a California road trip.

Minnesota is currently in a three-way second-place tie in the Big Ten at 2-1, with Michigan State (whom they play this weekend) and Northwestern (whom they already beat). A win over the Spartans knocks Michigan State to 2-2 and effectively out of the Rose Bowl picture. Northwestern has a bye this week, but still has tough road games versus Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan and faces Purdue and Illinois at home. It is unlikely that the Wildcats will run the table and it is more likely that they will lose at least two more Big Ten games, knocking them out of contention.

Iowa is 1-1, but still has to face an Ohio State team that has lost two straight games at home this weekend. The Hawkeyes also have to travel to Penn State, Illinois and Minnesota and play Big Ten undefeated teams Purdue and Wisconsin at home.

Michigan, Purdue and Wisconsin are undefeated in Big Ten play. However, Purdue and Wisconsin, who have both yet to lose this season, face each other this weekend at West Lafayette. Gopher fans will probably be in the uncomfortable position of rooting for their rival Badgers, since Minnesota does not face Purdue this year.

Wisconsin faces Northwestern and Minnesota at home after the Purdue game before facing Michigan State and Iowa on the road. There is a chance that they could be the favorite in all four games, if they get past Purdue this weekend.

Purdue, which has played three straight road games, has its toughest games at home as the Boilermakers will play Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State at West Lafayette. The Boilermakers face Northwestern and Iowa on the road. If they win this weekend, the Michigan contest (the following week) could determine the Big Ten title.

Michigan has the edge over the Gophers with the Wolverines' win in the Little Brown Jug. However, they still have some tough matchups down the road. The Wolverines will travel to Illinois and Purdue before home contests against in-state rival Michigan State and Northwestern. They conclude their season on the road against Ohio State. The Buckeyes are reeling with consecutive Big Ten losses and would love nothing more than to stop their biggest rival from appearing in the Rose Bowl.

The Gophers' odds of making the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1962 took a hit, but if they can win the remaining games (they figure to be favorites in four of the five contests) and get some help, they could still be playing in January.

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