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Could the Gophers draw Alabama in a bowl game?

How awesome would a game against Alabama be?

Although the Gophers won't be playing in the Rose Bowl, the U of M has likely done enough to earn a birth to a New Year's Day bowl game. 

After last weekend's games, the Gophers are No. 15 in the country in both national polls and should still draw a formidable opponent. Here are a few projections from national outlets on who the Gophers could line up with.

ESPN: Outback Bowl vs. Tennesse

College football gurus Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach both projected Minnesota to draw Tennessee in the Outback Bowl.

The Vols had a down season, going 7-5 overall in the SEC but they closed the season on a five-game winning streak. The Outback Bowl is played in Tampa, Florida, and typically takes lower ranked teams in the top 25. 

Last year, unranked Iowa beat No. 18 Mississippi State. However, over the last five years, only once has a team inside the top 15 been selected to participate, so the Gophers probably deserve a bit more respect.

247 Sports and College Football News: Citrus Bowl vs. Auburn

Both 247 Sports and College Football News project the Gophers and No. 11 Auburn in the Citrus Bowl. Auburn pulled off a massive win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl, vaulting them into the New Year's Six conversation while also probably taking Alabama out of the College Football Playoff.

Auburn has a loyal fan base and with Minnesota expected to travel well, this could be a really fun bowl game. The Gophers played in the Citrus Bowl in 2015 against No. 14 Mizzou, falling 33-17.

Typically, the committee for the Citrus Bowl likes to line up an SEC school with either a Big Ten or ACC team and since 2006, a Big Ten school has been represented in all but two Citrus Bowls.

Can the Gophers draw Alabama?

With the Crimson Tide likely out of the College Football Playoff and not playing for a conference championship game, No. 9 Alabama will be playing in a non-playoff bowl game for the first time in five seasons. 

In recent years, diehard Gopher fans have made signs saying "We Want 'Bama," and now, just maybe, the Gophers deserve at a shot at the SEC power. 

The Citrus Bowl would again be the most logical game where the two schools meet. If we're going off past Citrus Bowl participants, here are the last five matchups.

  • 2019: No. 16 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Penn State 
  • 2018: No. 14 Notre Dame vs. No. 17 LSU 
  • 2017: No. 20 LSU vs. No. 13 Louisville 
  • 2016: No. 14 Michigan vs. No. 19 Florida 
  • 2015: No. 16 Missouri vs. No. 25 Minnesota

Funny enough, with the exceptions of the Gophers in 2015, the committee typically to takes two teams inside the top 20. Meaning the No. 15 Gophers and No. 9 Alabama is definitely in their ballpark. 

Alabama might have to fall a few spots in national rankings to be in more realistic range for the Citrus Bowl, but there are instances where top-10 teams have been selected.

  • 2014 No. 9 South Carolina vs. No. 19 Wisconsin 
  • 2013: No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 23 Nebraska 
  • 2012: No. 9 South Carolina vs. No. 20 Nebraska

Despite disappointing losses to Iowa and Wisconsin, Minnesota could more than finish the season with a huge building block for the future by upsetting Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. 

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