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Bound for Pasadena? Gophers projected to face Utah in Rose Bowl

The Rose Bowl would be amazing, but the College Football Playoff is within reach.

Minnesota's postseason fate is yet to be determined, and the sky is the limit for the undefeated leaders of the Big Ten West division. At this point, the Gophers have put themselves in a good position to one, have a chance to reach the four team College Football Playoff, or two, go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1962. 

At this point, none of the national pundits think the Gophers are going to upset Ohio State in a potential Big Ten Championship Game, but all of the experts are picking Minnesota to face Utah in the Rose Bowl, which always features a game between Big Ten and Pac 12 powers. 

Here's the clean sweep of projections: 

  • ESPN's Kyle Bonagura: Gophers vs. Utah in the Rose Bowl. 
  • ESPN's Mark Schlabach: Gophers vs. Utah in the Rose Bowl. 
  • CBS Sports' Brad Crawford: Gophers vs. Utah in the Rose Bowl. 
  • Stadium's Brett McMurphy: Gophers vs. Utah in the Rose Bowl. 
  • Sporting News' Bill Bender: Gophers vs. Utah in the Rose Bowl. 
  • Gophers vs. Utah in the Rose Bowl. 

To reach the College Football Playoff, which we have more details on right here, the Gophers might have to run the table and finish the regular season 12-0, then win the Big Ten Championship Game. 

Things get really interesting if Ohio State loses one of its final three games. The Buckeyes should romp Rutgers this weekend, but they close the season with games Nov. 23 at home against Penn State and at rival Michigan on Nov. 30. Albeit unlikely, it's definitely possible that Ohio State loses its two toughest games to close the season. 

If that happens, Minnesota might suddenly look like the most dominant team in the Big Ten. Of course, that always requires the Gophers beating Iowa this weekend at Kinnick Stadium, which they haven't done since 1999, and taking down Wisconsin the regular season finale Nov. 30 at TCF Bank Stadium. 

"Could we see an unbeaten Gophers team fall to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game? If so, P.J. Fleck will campaign for his team to be in the final four mix against the likes of at-large Alabama and potential conference champions Oklahoma, Oregon or Utah," says McMurphy. 

"Minnesota's win over Penn State on Saturday makes the Gophers a real threat to the New Year's Six with this Rose Bid going to them or the Wisconsin Badgers.

We'll have more on the Gophers when the new College Football Playoff rankings are released at 6 p.m. Tuesday. 

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