I believe a win vs. Michigan would have put them in a tie for 1st, even with the later losses to MSU and Iowa. They could have gone to the Rose Bowl based on tie breakers (head to head vs. Michigan and longest time since last Rose Bowl vs. Purdue and Ohio State).The loss to MSU in 03 the week following the collapse also was not enjoyable. A win there puts the Gophers at 6-2, tied with OSU and Purdue for 2nd. Someone here probably knows the tiebreakers and bowl the Gophers could have gone to.
The overtime loss to Whiskey in 1999 also cost the Gophs a tie for 1st in the Big Ten. Mase very VERY close at least a couple of times.
BTW, one of my favorite college football moments came in that 1999 Whiskey game (prior to the tough ending). A drunk Becky fan jumped out of the stands with full large beer in hand and started sprinting from the south end zone towards the north. Goldy Gopher, in all his greatness, proceeded to run Drunk Becky down from behind, beer goes flying, and Goldy wrestles Drunk Becky down in a Brock Lesnar impersonation. God bless you Goldy!