MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (6-6)
vs. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (7-5)
Meineke Car Care Bowl - Houston, TX
Kickoff: Friday, 9:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Texas Tech -13, Total: 55
Two teams look to end their seasons on a high note when Minnesota and Texas Tech square off in Friday's Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston.
Both teams slump into this game as Minnesota is just 2-6 (SU and ATS) in its past eight contests, while Texas Tech has lost four of five (0-5 ATS), allowing 46.2 PPG during this span. The Gophers were just 1-4 ATS in non-home games this year, managing only 17.4 PPG. The Red Raiders rank second in the nation in passing offense (362 YPG), but have allowed 52+ points in each of their past four games outside of Lubbock. Minnesota has lost four straight bowl games, but three defeats were by three points or less. Texas Tech is playing in its fourth straight bowl game taking place in Texas. With head coach Tommy Tuberville leaving for Cincinnati, offensive line coach Chris Thomsen will lead the Red Raiders on Friday.
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Minnesota's offense is a mess, and freshman QB Philip Nelson has provided little solace since he took over for Max Shortell. Nelson has thrown more INT (7) than TD (6) this year, and has been just dreadful in the past two games, completing 18-of-46 passes (39%) for 120 yards (2.6 YPA), 0 TD and 5 INT in losses to Nebraska and Michigan State. It hasn't helped the offense that leading receiver A.J. Barker quit the team in November, citing mistreatment by head coach Jerry Kill. Sophomore RB Donnell Kirkwood is the team's most effective offensive player with 849 rushing yards and 5 TD this year, but he has also struggled in these past two contests, gaining just 30 yards on 17 carries. The Gophers defense continues to carry this team, allowing just 353 total YPG (29th in nation) and 23.9 PPG (38th in FBS) this season. They are particularly sharp in their passing defense (179 YPG, 11th in nation), and they will certainly be tested by Texas Tech's high-octane passing attack. The Gophers have forced multiple turnovers in half of their games this season, including three in a row.
Seth Doege is in the midst of another monster season, ranking 9th in the nation in total offense (331 YPG) and 14th in passing efficiency (7.9 YPA, 38 TD, 14 INT). He has thrown at least three touchdown passes seven times this year with outputs of 5, 6, 6, and 7 TD in a triple-overtime win at TCU. Doege has never played in a bowl game before, and he has not been as crisp in his past two games with more INT (five) than TD passes (four). The Red Raiders have a pair of 900-yard receivers in Eric Ward (75 rec., 974 yds, 11 TD) and Darrin Moore (81 rec., 948 yds, 13 TD), who has a whopping 21 catches for 326 yards and 3 TD in the past two games. Sophomore RB Kenny Williams (779 rush yds, 5.7 YPC) is the top rusher in Lubbock, but he has surpassed 15 carries just once all season. Turnovers have been a huge problem for Texas Tech, more particularly on the defensive side of the ball, where the school has forced the third-fewest turnovers in FBS this season with 10. But the Red Raiders have a paltry 1.3 sacks per game (T-105th in nation), which is why they have surrendered 31.8 PPG (92nd in FBS). Yardage-wise they are not too shabby though, allowing just 367 total YPG (2nd in Big 12) and 196 passing YPG (best in conference).