Texas Tech vs. Minnesota
Dec 28, 8pm (ET), ESPN
Reliant Stadium (Houston, TX)
Line: Texas Tech -12 1/2
Ahh, Minnesota... The perennial fringe bowl team returns to it's rightful place as just that - a fringe bowl team. They are making their first appearance in a bowl game since 2009 and will take on a Texas Tech Red Raiders squad that is playing it's fourth straight bowl game in the state of Texas (that's got to be some kind of record, right?). This could end up being one of the more entertaining games as both teams have major questions to be answered. For Texas Tech it's what happens without Tommy Tuberville on the sidelines and for Minnesota it's what can a freshman QB do for us in his first bowl game?
Sexiness: On the surface this game appears to be a complete train wreck, so who better to represent this game than one Courtney Love. She is the queen of train wrecks, yet somehow coming out looking better in the end still, right? That's exactly like this game, on the surface it could be very ugly for Minnesota but underestimating these guys is never a good thing, especially with Philip Nelson at QB. Just think of him as the sober Courtney Love, you know... the one that can actually look good at times.
A word about our sponsor...: Remember when the Belk Bowl was the Meineke Car Care Bowl? Yep, that used to be the case, instead the car care repair chain hitched it's wagon up to the Texas Bowl instead. Meineke can do it all for you, but specializes in muffler and brake repair jobs. Yippie skippy, huh? More like yawn and move on for me.
Aces: What is the strength of any Red Raiders football team - the passing game, right? Well, that's a given and this year it was no different as they ranked 2nd in the country in passing yards a game (361.9 yards) and had QB Seth Doege pass for nearly 4,000 yards with 38 touchdowns to 14 interceptions.
Deuces: Even for the Big 12 this team gave up quite a lot of points, averaging 31.8 points a game to their opponents. You can only outscore opponents so many times before things catch up to you and that's ultimately what cost the Red Raiders a better record in 2012. However, they can at times play some really good defense as well... Just ask Geno Smith how good they can be.
Wildcard: One of the more interesting things to watch for is to see if Texas Tech can get anything going on the ground in this one as the TTU rushing attack is vastly underrated. Both Kenny Williams and SaDale Foster average more than 5 yards a carry and Minnesota's team hasn't exactly been stellar against the run. If they can hit some big gainers to keep drives going it may be a long day for the Gophers.
Aces: This is asking a lot, because there really isn't much that the Gophers do well, but if they are going to win the football game they need to get the running game going and that will fall on the shoulders of two guys - whomever is playing QB and Donnell Kirkwood. However, it's not a given that that will work as they rank just 81st on the year in rushing yards and believe it or not that's better than anything going on in the passing game.
Deuces: On a team that's 6-6 there are plenty of holes and for Minnesota it's exactly the case as both the passing offense and rushing defense have been pretty bad (and I'm being nice). The Gophers are averaging just 171.4 yards passing on offense, good for 108th nationally. On defense they are allowing opponents to rush for more yards a game than the Gophers offense passes for and that's a big time issue.
Wildcard: What will be interesting to see from the Gophers is who will actually play the majority of minutes at QB. Will it be senior MarQuies Gray or will it be freshman Phillip Nelson? Nelson has brought life to the lifeless offense in his time as a starter, but Gray is a special athlete and it could be interesting to see how they use these two in an attempt to win this game.
So you don’t forget...: Injuries have really hurt the Gophers this season and now it appears a suspension will hurt the already dismal Gophers passing game as Andre McDonald is being suspended for the dreaded violation of team rules. That's a 2nd WR gone from this team in last two months as A.J. Barker also left the program in November.
Crystal Ball: This one has the hallmarks of an absolute ass kicking to it and as much I've tried to see a way for the Gophers to win this game I just am not seeing it. They don't have one solid QB, their depth is brutally shaken up, and they can't pass the football to save their lives. Those aren't good combinations against a Texas Tech team that can light it up in the passing game.
Score: Texas Tech 47, Minnesota 24