Bowl chances hurt by huge road loss

After Saturday’s loss to Iowa, Minnesota is now staring at the Motor City Bowl.

David McCoy

Iowa’s 52-28 pasting of Minnesota’s football team certainly hurt emotionally.

But it also hurt Minnesota’s bowl aspirations immensely.

Now with Penn State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten), Ohio State (9-2, 7-1 Big Ten), Wisconsin (8-3, 5-3 Big Ten), Michigan (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten), Iowa (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten) and Northwestern (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten) all ahead of the Gophers, it appears Minnesota likely will be headed to the Motor City Bowl Dec. 26 in Detroit as the Big Ten’s seventh bid.

The best Minnesota can hope for is for Ohio State to gain an at-large bid to a Bowl Championship Series bowl, in which case Minnesota would get bumped up.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t win, but we still got a bowl game,” linebacker Kyle McKenzie said. “And hopefully we can come out with a victory in the bowl. We’ll get somewhere we haven’t been before, but I don’t know how good that might be.”

Giannini pulled

Minnesota kicker Jason Giannini’s 38-yard missed field goal on the first play of the second quarter wasn’t enough for coach Glen Mason to pull the freshman, who missed his opening field goal attempt for the third time in the past four games.

But after Giannini muffed a fourth-quarter kickoff that went only 20 yards and into the stands, Mason had enough. After sticking with Giannini through six missed field goals and eight extra points, Mason allowed sophomore walk-on Joel Monroe to finish the game.

Monroe converted both attempted extra points and his first kickoff went for a touchback.

Playing through Payne

Minnesota wide receiver Logan Payne limped off the field with 11:30 left in the game, favoring his right foot.

But Payne returned later, coming up with several big plays before catching a 3-yard touchdown pass from Bryan Cupito with 1:34 left, completing a 21-point fourth quarter that made Minnesota’s solid beating look less brutal than it really was.

Payne finished with 11 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown, including catching a 53-yard bomb that set up Minnesota’s third touchdown of the game. Payne had a boot on his right foot after the game.

Freshman defensive end Steve Davis didn’t start Saturday’s game, but he did see some time late in the game. He missed the entire Nov. 12 contest against Michigan State. Davis had one tackle against Iowa. Jared Ellerson missed his third straight game with a toe injury.

“Fire Mason’

Despite reports that Minnesota coach Glen Mason is expected to receive a contract extension in the coming weeks, Gophers fans seated near the end zone at Kinnick Stadium offered different advice for athletics director Joel Maturi as?he made his way from the press box to the Gophers bench on the other side of the field near the end of Saturday’s 52-28 Iowa win.

Numerous fans, frustrated with the results of Saturday’s game and another likely trip to a second-tier bowl,?could be heard shouting “Fire Mason, fire Mason” as Maturi walked past.

Mason’s current contract expires at the end of next season.