After disappointing loss, Gophers await bowl game announcement

Despite the loss to Wisconsin, the Gophers are poised to play in their highest-profile bowl game in years.

Wide receiver Seth Green hypes the team up before the start of the game at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 30.

Image by Parker Johnson

Wide receiver Seth Green hypes the team up before the start of the game at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 30.

by John Miller

While the Gophers are focused on their upcoming bowl game, which will be announced on Sunday, there has been much talk about how Minnesota’s best regular season in decades ended with a loss against Wisconsin.

Over the last few days, pundits and fans have continually brought up the Gophers’ lack of aggressiveness and inability to shine in the spotlight. However, head coach P.J. Fleck and the Gophers want fans to know this won’t be the last time the Gophers are in a big game. 

“We’re doing everything we can to set a new standard and an expectation here of what Minnesota Golden Gopher football looks like,” Fleck said. “We’re going to have some more of these.”

The national media and College Football Playoff committee didn’t look kindly upon the team after the loss. Although they only dropped six spots in the AP poll, from No. 9 to No. 15, the playoff committee dropped them 10 spots, from No. 8 to No. 18, on Tuesday.

While the justification of dropping the Gophers 10 spots has been a hot-button discussion, the actual ranking doesn’t mean much. Minnesota’s fate is now in the hands of the the bowls themselves, who pick which teams play in their games. 

With the loss to Wisconsin last weekend, the Gophers lost any realistic shot of going to the Rose Bowl, which is normally reserved for the second-best team in the Big Ten. No. 8 Wisconsin, No. 10 Penn State and No. 16 Iowa all rank ahead of Minnesota in the College Football Playoff ranking.

Playing a Jan. 1 bowl game is still a possibility for the program. The Citrus Bowl is one of them, according to CBS senior sports writer Jerry Palm, while other predictions have the Gophers in the Outback Bowl. The Citrus Bowl is played in Orlando, Florida and the Outback Bowl is played in Tampa Bay, Florida. 

Despite the possibility of playing in the “Sunshine State,” the Gophers could also be facing a very tough SEC opponent such as Auburn or Alabama in either bowl. Either of those match-ups would pose a huge test for Minnesota but would also be a reward for the team’s progress this year.

“I feel like from this year forward everybody’s going to know the Minnesota is a force to be reckoned with,” redshirt senior defensive lineman Winston DeLattiboudere said after the Wisconsin game. 

No matter what bowl the Gophers make it into, the graduating seniors are going to use the next month or so to learn and get better. 

“I get the last push at developing guys,” DeLattiboudere said. “Just instilling everything that I can instill to them before my time runs out. So if I want to see this program go where it needs to go, I need to spend this time instilling values and morals and work ethic into the younger guys because they’re going to be the guys changing the page next year.”

The loss against the Badgers left a bad taste in the mouths of the team and fans, but make no doubt about it: the Gophers will not let it define them.

“Our team will respond, I can guarantee you that,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Tanner Morgan said. “This team will respond from this and take the next right step as a program in doing so.”