As president and CEO of the Music City Bowl, Scott Ramsey has spent the past week mentally juggling moving parts, keeping an eye on developments with other bowl games and envisioning contingency plans for selection day.
On Sunday, the College Football Playoff will announce its four semifinalists at 11 a.m. on ESPN, and from there, all the other bowls will make a mad dash to fill their spots.
"This week is where you run multiple scenarios so you're ready on Sunday,'' Ramsey said from Nashville, where the Music City Bowl will be played Dec. 31. "It's a pretty crazy week, just being prepared on all the what-ifs.''
For the Gophers, the what-ifs will be resolved Sunday, and indications are that their two most likely destinations are the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29 at Yankee Stadium or the Music City Bowl. Things could change based on how the conference championship games play out, so don't reserve your travel package just yet.
Ramsey said the Music City Bowl is considering Iowa, Illinois and the Gophers to face an SEC opponent. Minnesota played in the Nashville bowl in 2002, '04 and '05, and that might tip the scale in favor of Iowa or Illinois, which have not played in the bowl.
"We've really worked with the conference office on doing the best we can to putting some teams in places they haven't been,'' Ramsey said. "Certainly, it's been a long time for Minnesota, but the other teams that probably would factor in our mix are Illinois or Iowa. … We haven't had either one of those teams.''
Iowa was scheduled to play in this game in 2020, but the bowl was canceled because of COVID-19, so a mulligan could be in the works for the Hawkeyes.
My projection: Iowa vs. Ole Miss.
Pinstripe Bowl officials don't comment publicly on prospective teams before the matchup is set, so knowing their intentions is guesswork. However, seven different Big Ten teams have played in the bowl since it became affiliated with the conference in 2014, and if the Pinstripe execs still are looking for new faces in the game, the Gophers would fit that bill.
Three teams that might be in the Pinstripe mix already have played in this bowl: Maryland last year, Wisconsin in 2018 and Iowa in 2017.
My projection: Gophers vs. Syracuse
Here's how the Gophers factor in the other Big Ten bowl games:
Citrus Bowl, Jan. 2, Orlando
Gophers' chances: None. West Division champion Purdue is the leader to land here.
Projection: Purdue vs. LSU
ReliaQuest Bowl, Jan. 2, Tampa, Fla.
Gophers' chances: Highly unlikely. Multiple media reports say the Rose Bowl is considering taking Penn State, No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings, which would move No. 5 Ohio State to the Orange Bowl. That would trigger a clause that allows the ACC to put a team in the ReliaQuest Bowl, replacing a Big Ten squad.
Projection: Notre Dame vs. South Carolina
Duke's Mayo Bowl, Dec. 30, Charlotte, N.C.
Gophers chances: Unlikely. Indications are that the Mayo bowl execs are focused on Illinois, Iowa and Maryland.
Projection: Illinois vs. North Carolina State
Guaranteed Rate, Dec. 27, Phoenix
Gophers' chances: None. They won't be invited to this bowl in back-to-back years.
Projection: Wisconsin vs. Baylor
Quick Lane, Dec. 26, Detroit
Gophers' chances: Slim to none. Big Ten officials wouldn't put an 8-4 Minnesota team in the final bowl on the conference's pecking order for the third time since 2015, would they?
Projection: Maryland vs. Ohio University
New Year's Six bowl projections
Fiesta (playoff semifinal), Dec. 31, Glendale, Ariz.
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU
Peach (playoff semifinal), Dec. 31, Atlanta
No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 USC
Rose, Jan. 2, Pasadena, Calif.
No. 8 Penn State vs. No. 12 Washington
Orange, Dec. 30, Miami Gardens, Fla.
No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Clemson
Sugar, Dec. 31, New Orleans
No. 6 Alabama vs. No. 10 Kansas State
Cotton, Jan. 2, Arlington, Texas
No. 7 Tennessee vs. No. 18 Tulane