Meineke Car Care Bowl
Remember the last time a team with a 2-6 conference record made it to a bowl game? No? Well, neither does anyone else.
Minnesota finished the season with a 6-6 record. In the process, they only played one ranked team all year and that was at Nebraska. Their conference wins came against Illinois (worst team in the Big 10) and Purdue (another 6-6 team). Outside of the conference, they actually started 4-0 with their fourth win coming against seven-win Syracuse.
Texas Tech only had one more win, but they also had a much harder schedule playing against seven ranked schools. Their biggest wins came in back-to-back weeks in October when they killed West Virginia and beat TCU in three overtimes. Since those games, they have lost four of their last five with their lone win coming against Kansas. The Red Raiders didn't cover in any of those games and still find themselves as double-digit favorites even without Tommy Tuberville as coach. Former Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury was recently named the new Texas Tech Head Coach.
When faced against a rare offensively-able Big 10 opponent this year, Minnesota hasn't been able to do much. They gave up at least 35 points to Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska, but were only able to score 14 points max in those games. One thing Texas Tech can do is score, averaging close to 38 points per game.
In his senior season, quarterback Seth Doege is the reason for that. He has thrown for 3,934 yards and 38 TDs this year. Passing for 300 yards is a common occurrence for him. One of his bigger problems has been interceptions which he has 14 of this year, compared to only 10 last season. He has thrown five in his last two games. That's basically where the offense ends as they don't have much of a running attack. Starting RB Kenny Williams has rushed for 100 yards only once and his most carries in a game is 18. He is tied for the team lead with five rushing TDs. Wide receivers Eric Ward and Darrin Moore will be a handful for the Gophers defensive backs. The two have combined for 156 receptions for 1,922 yards and 24 touchdowns.
The Red Raiders weak point is their defense, but it's a big question if Minnesota can capitalize on that or not as they are averaging only 21.3 points per game.
The Gophers have had quarterback problems all year, from injuries to guys just not being good enough. They turned to Freshman Philip Nelson halfway through the year and he looks exactly like a freshman. In his last three games, he has 198 yards, zero TDs and five interceptions. Those are totals for three games. Their leading receiver (A.J. Barker) has just 30 catches, but seven touchdowns. If anything, Minnesota should be able to run on Texas Tech. Nelson can move somewhat with his legs, but Donnell Kirkwood will get most of the carries. However, he only has 30 yards in his last two games. The bright spot for him is that he eclipsed 130 yards in Minnesota's only two conference wins.
This might be a good one to stay away from. If we had to take a shot, we'd go with Texas Tech, following our rule of thumb of never asking a bad team to win for you. Minnesota is bad. Their wins came against UNLV, New Hampshire, Western Michigan, Syracuse, Purdue and Illinois. When they stepped up in class this year they were beaten soundly each time.
Texas Tech is no bargain either. Tough to back a team that has dropped 4 of 5 and got by Kansas by just a touchdown. But their quality of opposition should help them here, providing they come in motivated which is another big question mark. Just a guess, but Texas Tech -13