At 5-7, the Gophers know they might not deserve a bowl berth. But it’s looking more and more like they’ll get picked, and coach Tracy Claeys said Monday that they would welcome the opportunity.
With 40 bowls, the NCAA has 80 spots to fill, and only 75 teams have qualified with six wins. Three more current 5-6 teams – Kansas State, Georgia State and South Alabama -- can qualify Saturday, though all are underdogs.
At least two, and up to five 5-7 teams will be needed to fill bowl spots. On Monday, the NCAA announced that the replacement teams will be picked based on highest Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores.
Of the potential pool of 5-7 teams, the Gophers are tied for fourth in APR. The top of the list goes Nebraska (985), Missouri (976), Kansas State (976), Minnesota (975), San Jose State (975), Illinois (973) and Rice (973).
Missouri announced that it would forgo a bowl if selected, which moved the Gophers up a peg. This means, if Georgia State and South Alabama lose Saturday – and both are at least 16-point underdogs to Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, respectively – the Gophers will get a bowl bid.
One advantage to a bowl game is teams are given 15 additional practices.
“I visited with the kids [Monday] night, and our kids coming back are excited about if we would get that opportunity,” Gophers coach Tracy Claeys said.
“We are going to continue to lift weights and condition,” he added. “I think it would be great news, if we would have an opportunity to go to a bowl for our younger players.”