Minnesota just two games short of bowl eligibility

As a freshman in 2006, Adam Weber flew with the Gophers football team to its bowl game in Tempe, Ariz. Like the rest of the players, he was treated to high-class hotels, meals, gifts and banquets. But as a redshirt, he watched the game from the sideline. This year the Gophers quarterback might just get to step on the field in one after the Gophers improved to 4-0 Saturday, just two wins away from bowl eligibility . âÄúTheyâÄôre a blast,âÄù Weber said. âÄúIf we take care of our business, weâÄôll be playing somewhere this winter.âÄù ItâÄôs a big step forward for a team that, a year ago, was almost out of postseason contention before the Big Ten schedule even began and failed to make a bowl for the first time in five years . âÄúIt was really, really tough last year,âÄù junior receiver Eric Decker said. âÄúYou miss out on the fun that you get from bowl games, from the presents you get to the time you get to spend with each other for a week. WeâÄôre hungry to get back to one.âÄù All four of the teamâÄôs wins have come against nonmajor conference teams âÄî Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Montana State and Florida Atlantic âÄî but that doesnâÄôt mean they havenâÄôt been challenged. Bowling Green was coming off an upset over No. 25 Pittsburgh when the Gophers beat them on the road and Florida Atlantic, like Bowling Green, beat the Gophers last seaso n. But the Gophers have outscored their opponents 145-70 and are 4-0 for the first time since 2005 . Teams under Tim BrewsterâÄôs head coaching predecessor Glen Mason, often chided for his light preseason schedule, went 4-0 in five of MasonâÄôs 10 seasons. They also went to seven bowls . âÄúWe played some good teams this year, but no matter who youâÄôre playing, starting off the year 4-0 is huge,âÄù Weber said. âÄúWhen youâÄôre 1-3 going into the Big Ten, those tough times are harder to get through than if youâÄôre going in undefeated, with a swagger.âÄù But with Michigan (1-2) being the only Big Ten with a losing record , itâÄôs possible that it could take more than six wins. The Big Ten has ties to seven bowls, which means that at least seven Big Ten teams, if theyâÄôre eligible, will play in a bowl. If two teams were to make Bowl Championship Series bowls, it would be possible for eight teams to be selected. âÄúYou can never really be sure with the Big Ten,âÄù Athletics Director Joel Maturi said. âÄúThereâÄôs a lot of good teams. Six wins make you eligible, but not necessarily comfortable.âÄù The Rose Bowl , part of the Bowl Championships Series, gets its first âÄúpickâÄù of the conference teams, and will always pick the team that wins the conference. After that the pecking order in choice of team goes: Capital One Bowl , Outback Bowl , Alamo Bowl , Champs Sports Bowl , Insight Bowl and Motor City Bowl . The bowl a team goes to is primarily based on their finish in the conference, but can also depend on things like team loyalty and the potential to bring in revenue, which have hurt Minnesota in the past. This year, they donâÄôt want to make it a tough choice. âÄúEspecially after last year, a bowl game would be nice,âÄù sophomore cornerback Kyle Theret said. âÄúBut if we can keep this rolling we could be in a position to do a lot better than just a regular bowl game.âÄù