Coming off of one of their best regular seasons in over 100 years, the Gophers finally know their bowl destination.
No. 18 Minnesota will head to Tampa Bay, Florida to take on the No. 12 Auburn Tigers in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1. The game will be played at Raymond James Stadium, where the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers call home.
This will be yet another opportunity for the program to play in the spotlight. It will be the second time the program plays in a New Year’s Day bowl game since the 1960s. The Gophers lost to Missouri in the Citrus Bowl to conclude the 2014 season.
Since that loss to Missouri, the Gophers have not lost a bowl game; they are currently on a three-game win streak. Most recently, Minnesota beat Georgia Tech 34-10 in the Quick Lane Bowl. This is the second-consecutive season the Gophers have qualified for a bowl game.
The Gophers will have their hands full facing a very good Auburn Tigers team. They finished the season with a 9-3 overall record and went 5-3 in the SEC West conference. Their three losses were against AP Top 15 teams: Florida, Georgia and LSU. The Tigers finished their season defeating Alabama on Nov. 30 to win the Iron Bowl and effectively eliminating the Crimson Tide from the College Football Playoff.
Offensively, the Tigers are led by freshman Bo Nix, who has thrown for 15 touchdowns and six interceptions and has run for seven scores. On the ground, Nix is joined by running back JaTarvious Whitlow. Whitlow leads the team in attempts (147), yards (739) and rushing touchdowns (nine).
Defensively, Auburn is ranked No. 21 in the country in rush defense, allowing 115.5 yards per game and is No. 13 in points allowed (18.6).
The Iowa Hawkeyes, a fellow Big Ten team, won last year's Outback Bowl. The Hawkeyes represented the Big Ten well, beating the Mississippi State Bulldogs 27-22.