2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Friday, December 28, 2012, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Minnesota Golden Gophers vs Texas Tech Red Raiders
Reliant Stadium – Houston, Texas
Opening Line: Texas Tech -12 1/2
Current Line: Texas Tech -13
Opening Total: 57
Current Total: 55 1/2
Opening Money Line: Texas Tech -505 / Minnesota +405
Current Money Line: Texas Tech -505 / Minnesota +405
The 7-5 Texas Tech Red Raiders take on the 6-6 Minnesota Golden Gophers in the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas in Houston Friday night. Texas Tech won a 44-41 overtime thriller against Minnesota in the 2006 Insight Bowl in the only previous meeting between the schools.
Texas Tech is 11-21-1 all-time in bowl games. The Red Raiders have won 7 of their last 9 bowl appearances including 45-38 against Northwestern in the 2011 Ticket City Bowl. Texas Tech missed out on a bowl game last season to snap a streak of 11 straight bowl appearances. The Red Raiders are making their 17th bowl appearance since 1993.
Minnesota is 5-9 all time in bowl games. The Golden Gophers lost to Iowa St 14-13 in the 2009 Insight Bowl in their last bowl appearance. Minnesota has lost 4 straight bowl games, and hasn’t won a bowl since they beat Alabama in the 2004 Music City Bowl.
Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville left to take over the Cincinnati program. Offensive line coach Chris Thomsen will serve as the interim coach for the bowl game. Texas Tech hired former Red Raider quarterback Kliff Kingsbury as the coach for next season. Kingsbury had been the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M.
Texas Tech finished 4-5 in the Big 12. The losses for Texas Tech came at home to Oklahoma 41-20 and Texas 31-22, in Dallas against Baylor 52-45 in overtime to close out the regular season, along with road losses at Kansas St 55-24 and Oklahoma St 59-21. After a 6-1 start the Red Raiders went 1-4 down the stretch. The Red Raiders have home wins over Northwestern St 44-6, New Mexico 49-14, West Virginia 49-14 and against Kansas 41-34 in overtime. Texas Tech has road wins over Texas St 58-10, Iowa St 24-13, and at TCU 56-53 in triple overtime. The Red Raiders are 6-6 ATS and the total is 7-4.
Texas Tech is averaging 501.4 yards per game on offense, including 361.9 passing yards and 139.5 rushing yards. The Red Raiders are #12 in total offense and #2 in passing. Tech is outscoring opponents 38-32 this season. The Red Raiders are #18 in points scored nationally, but 92nd in points allowed. Texas Tech is -12 in turnovers with 22 giveaways. Texas Tech is averaging 71 penalty yards per game. The Red Raiders are 87/176 on third and fourth down conversions, and 55/63 scoring in the red zone with 43 touchdowns. Tech has given up 18 sacks this season. On defense, Texas Tech is allowing 367.2 yards per game including 195.6 passing and 171.7 rushing yards. The Red Raiders are #39 in total defense and #22 against the pass. Early in the season Tech had a top ten ranked defense nationally but that was against vastly inferior competition. Texas Tech opponents are 77/192 on third and fourth down conversions, and 42/49 scoring in the red zone with 30 touchdowns. Texas Tech has forced 16 sacks and 10 turnovers this season. Texas Tech has a kick return and an interception return for touchdowns, but they have given up 6 defensive/special teams touchdowns, including 4 pick sixes.
Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege has completed 349/496 passes (70.4%) for 3,934 yards with 38 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He has been sacked 16 times, but does have a rushing touchdown. Running back Kenny Williams has 136 carries, 779 yards, and 5 touchdowns, along with 14 catches, 135 yards, and a touchdown. SaDale Foster has 87 carries, for 440 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 17 catches for 83 yards. Eric Stephens, Jr. has 84 carries, 414 yards, and 5 touchdowns, along with 15 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. He even threw a touchdown pass.
Counting the running back, twelve Texas Tech receivers have at least 14 catches. Receiver Eric Ward has 75 catches, 974 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Darrin Moore has 81 catches, 948 yards and 13 touchdowns. Tight end Jace Amaro has 23 catches, 394 yards, and 4 touchdowns. He is questionable with a chest injury and has missed the last 6 games. Tyson Williams, Jakeem Grant, Alex Torres, Austin Zouzalik, and Marcus Kennard all get significant catches as well. Bradley Marquez and Javon Bell are out for the season along with two other little used receivers. Torres is questionable with a back injury. Texas Tech has a ton of depth at receiver, but that will be tested with so many injuries. The defense is also battling injuries and suspensions. Five defensive players are out for Friday’s game.
Minnesota is coached by Jerry Kill, who has battled serious health problems all season. The Golden Gophers finished 2-6 in the Big Ten, and mainly qualified for a bowl because Penn St and Ohio St weren’t eligible due to NCAA sanctions. Minnesota opened the season with 4 straight non-conference wins before the wheels fell off in Big Ten ply. Minnesota has road wins over UNLV 30-27 in overtime, and at Illinois 17-3, along with home wins over New Hampshire 44-7, Western Michigan 28-23, Syracuse 17-10, and Purdue 44-28. The Gophers have home losses to Northwestern 21-13, Michigan 35-13, and Michigan St 26-10 to close out the regular season, and road losses at Iowa 31-13, Wisconsin 38-13, and Nebraska 38-14. Minnesota is 5-7 ATS and the total is 4-6-1 this season.
Minnesota is averaging 317.5 yards per game on offense including 171.4 passing yards and 146.1 rushing yards. The Gophers are being outscored 24-21 this season. Minnesota is #81 in rushing but 1ooth or worse in all other offensive categories. The Gophers are -3 in turnovers with 21 giveaways. Minnesota averages 47 penalty yards and has allowed 18 sacks this season. The Gophers are 63/178 on third and fourth down conversions and 28/35 scoring in the red zone with 20 touchdowns. On defense, Minnesota is allowing 352.8 yards per game including 178.5 passing yards and 174.2 rushing yards. The Gophers are #29 in total defense, #11 against the pass, #77 against the rush and #38 in points allowed. Minnesota has forced 17 turnovers and 25 sacks this season. Gopher opponents are 77/192 on third and fourth down conversions and 42/49 scoring in the red zone with 30 touchdowns. Minnesota has 2 defensive touchdowns.
Minnesota has used 3 quarterbacks this season. MarQueis Gray started the season, but injured his ankle in the third game of the season against Western Michigan. He then moved to wide receiver after missing 2.5 games. Gray has 464 passing yards, with 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He also has 61 carries, 331 yards and 5 rushing touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 121 yards. Sophomore Max Shortell became the starter after Gray was injured, but was benched after a few games. He announced he will transfer to another school and will not play in the bowl game. He had 853 passing yards with 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 48 rushing yards. True freshman Philip Nelson took over for Shortell. He has started the last 6 games and will start the bowl game, but Gray could see a few snaps out of the wildcat formation. Nelson has completed 68 of 136 passes (50%) for 735 yards with 6 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, along with 57 carries for 158 yards.
Running back Donnell Kirkwood has 199 carries, 849 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 7 catches. Rodrick Williams, Jr., James Gillum and K.J. Maye will also get a few carries. Receiver A.J. Barker has 30 catches, 577 yards and 7 touchdowns. Derrick Engel has 14 catches, 267 yards and a touchdown. Issac Fruechte has 19 catches, 256 yards and 2 touchdowns. John Rabe has 12 catches, 123 yards and 4 touchdowns. Devin Crawford-Tufts has 15 catches. Tight end Drew Goodger has 12 catches, 114 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is questionable with a shoulder injury. Six offensive linemen are questionable, doubtful or out Friday.
Minnesota is 4-1 ATS after a double digit home loss, in non-conference games, after allowing 200 rushing yards or more, and on grass, 3-1-1 in Friday games, 2-5 after scoring 20 points or less, 2-6 overall and 0-4 against teams with winning records.
Texas Tech is 4-0 ATS on grass, 4-1 in non-conference games, 5-2 after scoring 40 points or more, 10-4 after rushing for more than 200 yards, 46-22-1 after a straight up loss, 2-8 in neutral site games, 1-5 in bowl games, 1-6 after allowing 200 rushing yards or more, 0-4 after failing to cover, and after gaining more than 450 total yards, 0-5 after passing for 280 yards or more, and overall.
Look, I know the Meineke Car Bowl is contractually obligated to take a Big Ten if one is eligible and available. However, imagine a game between Texas Tech and 9-3 Louisiana Tech of the WAC. Louisiana Tech was snubbed for a bowl invite. Yes, it was their own fault because they didn’t want to play Lousiana-Monroe in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport. But there would be a ton of Bulldog fans in nearby Houston, as well as Red Raider fans. Plus it would be an exciting shootout between two of the country’s best offenses.
As it is though, we get a ho-hum game between Minnesota who can’t score and Texas Tech in front of a likely half-full Reliant Stadium. If Texas Tech is motivated, they should win handily.