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Gophers football: Bowl projections downshift and a surprise option after loss to Iowa

Similar to last week, the Gophers’ rivalry game on Saturday against Wisconsin will have more than Paul Bunyan’s Axe on the line.

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Minnesota Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck leads his team onto the field against the University of Iowa on Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press
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ST. PAUL -- On top of everything else, the University of Minnesota’s 13-10 loss to Iowa on Saturday damaged its bowl projections.

Besides losing the Floyd of Rosedale rivalry trophy and their outside chance of winning the Big Ten West Division, the Gophers (7-4) can all but forget about going to the Music City Bowl in Nashville or the former Outback Bowl (now named ReliaQuest) in Tampa.

Of 10 national projections tracked by the Pioneer Press, no outlet picked Minnesota for the Music City or ReliaQuest bowls.

For Minnesota, the Duke’s Mayo Bowl was the most-popular destination picked with a total of four educated guesses this week. The game is against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent and will be played on Friday, Dec. 30 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

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The second most popular destination was the too-familiar Quick Lane Bowl on Monday, Dec. 26 at Ford Field in Detroit. The Gophers know this spot well after visits there in 2015 and 2018. The matchup is with a Mid-American Conference team.

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The Pinstripe Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 29 at Yankee Stadium in New York City had been the most-popular pick for two straight weeks. After being previously forecast as Minnesota’s destination by five different outlets, only two of them this week picked the U to go to the Bronx and play against an ACC foe.

In a curveball, 247 Sports picked the Armed Forces Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 22 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. This was not on the radar for Minnesota across the previous month.

Similar to last week, the Gophers’ rivalry game on Saturday against Wisconsin (6-5) will have more than Paul Bunyan’s Axe on the line. With both teams 4-4 in the Big Ten, a higher spot in the bowl-game pecking order would likely go to the winner.

Gophers’ Week-By-Week Bowl ProjectionsThe number of national projections over the last five weeks where for Minnesota might go bowling (from left: the first roundup in late October, though November and into this week):

  • Pinstripe Bowl: 4, 2, 5, 5, 2
  • Mayo Bowl: 4, 3, 2, 1, 4
  • Music City Bowl: 0, 3, 2, 2, 0
  • ReliaQuest Bowl: 1, 1, 1, 1, 0
  • Quick Lane Bowl: 1, 1, 0, 1, 3
  • Armed Forces Bowl: 0, 0, 0, 0, 1

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