Last season's 5-7 record earned Gophers football a spot in the less-than-glamorous Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit. The Gophers beat Central Michigan 21-14, snapped a seven-game bowl losing streak but clearly wanted more in 2016.
Gophers senior Drew Wolitarsky told the Star Tribune that "the guys will be pretty amped to go and be able to hit the beach and enjoy ourselves" in San Diego for this year's Holiday Bowl against Washington State on Dec. 27.
Still four weeks before kickoff and the Cougars are favored.
ESPN writes that Minnesota will lose, in part, because of struggling quarterback Mitch Leidner and a WSU offense averaging 498 yards a game.
And ESPN doesn't think it'll be close, giving the Cougars a 37-24 prediction.
"Both defenses are solid, but quarterback Luke Falk gives Washington State a major advantage over Minnesota, which simply hasn't seen the improvement it needed from veteran signal-caller Mitch Leidner. The Gophers hang around for a half before Falk and his wide receivers start stretching the field. Washington State 37, Minnesota 24."
WSU coach Mike Leach has a history with Minnesota. They last met at the 2006 Insight Bowl. It turns out that was also the last game for ex-Gophers coach Glen Mason when he was fired after Leach's Texas Tech Red Raiders beat the Gophers in the largest comeback in FBS bowl history.
The Gophers led at half 38-7 and then Texas Tech outscored Minnesota 24-0 in the fourth quarter, winning in overtime.
“We don’t know much about Minnesota right now (other than that) they’re a big, tough Big Ten team,” Leach told the Seattle Times. “I’m sure we’ll exchange film with them today or tomorrow and will have plenty to watch. We just look forward to the challenge of playing them and getting to go to the Holiday Bowl.”
And for those Gophers fans looking to escape the Christmas cold, they will not be disappointed. San Diego's average high temperature is 69 degrees on Dec. 27.