5 college football teams that can make their first New Year’s Six bowl this season

Mack Brown, Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Mack Brown, Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /
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New Year's Six, college football teams
P.J. Fleck, Minnesota Golden Gophers. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /

Scouting Report. West. Minnesota Golden Gophers. 2. 852. Pick Analysis. Big Ten. player

Can Minnesota build on last year’s success?

Don’t think for a second the College Football Playoff Selection Committee has forgotten about the Minnesota Golden Gophers just yet. Under head coach P.J. Fleck, Minnesota almost rowed the boat into the playoff or an improbable New Year’s Six bowl bid. The Gophers were one of a dozen or so teams who were still alive to make the playoff once Thanksgiving arrived in late November.

While losing to the rival Wisconsin Badgers brought a swift end to their New Year’s Six plans, the Gophers did pummel an SEC comparable team at this juncture in the Auburn Tigers. Though Auburn has yet to reach the College Football Playoff, the Tigers have made it to two New Year’s Six bowls in the last half-dozen years. If Minnesota becomes Big Ten Auburn, it’ll get a bid here soon.

Despite lacking a Power 5 opponent in the non-conference, the Gophers have the schedule to go somewhere around 10-2 (7-2) this fall. Depending on how they do at Wisconsin or vs. the Michigan Wolverines at home, the Gophers could have the feel of the third-best team in the Big Ten. In short, they could get to a New Year’s Six bowl even if they don’t make it to Indianapolis.

Thus far, the Big Ten has sent six different schools to New Year’s Six bowls. However, only Wisconsin and the Iowa Hawkeyes have represented the Big Ten West in these high-profile games. Let’s also not overlook how Fleck took the MAC’s Western Michigan Broncos to the Cotton Bowl Classic back in 2016 right before taking over at Minnesota. He could do it again in 2020.