All football today. Please do not start a comment war about the appearance of the Golden Gopher Gridiron taken photo subject above.
- It's easy to forget, but the Gophers bowl berth means the team spent the holiday together as family. Traditional holiday plans were put on hold because of the preparations and practice schedule this Friday's game requires.
"We're here, and it's Christmas," Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said. "A lot of times, you want to be with your immediate families. A lot of these kids, this is the first time they may have never had the opportunity to spend Christmas with them. So it's an adjustment.
"We talk about it all the time, this is theirextended family. That's part of the sacrifice to get to a bowl game. This is what you want to do. This is what college football is all about."
- It hasn't all been practice and game prep for the Gophers. They won the "Rodeo Bowl", a competition and dinner between the TTech and Gopher teams. The event includes 7 challenges and the Gophers won 5-2. The 5 wins came in the following categories: Offensive Line Touchdown Dance Competition, Rope The Mascot, Chalk Branding, Calf Ribbon Pull and Hay Bale Toss. The Offensive Line Touchdown Dance looks like it would have been especially hilarious (see the :25 mark of the video below for proof). Golden Gopher Gridiron also delivers photos of the festivities.
- In other news, Reliant Stadium is big and impressive.
- Fuller talks with the receiving core about their motivation to perform. This group will definitely need to step up if the Gophers are going to win on Friday night. I'm excited to see if the extra practices helped build a rhythm and momentum that was severely lacking at the end of last year.
- Sandell says the Gophers aren't going to settle for "well, we made a bowl" as a consolation prize.
- Phil Miller looks at how the players and coaches view the importance of finishing the season with a winning or losing record.
- Something that has gone overlooked, but Troy Stoudermire only needs 14 kick return yards to set the all-time NCAA record. Here's hoping that he collects those 14 (and plenty more) while housing a KR for a TD. Also of note in the link?
Minnesota fans bought 3,163 tickets through the university, the Gophers announced. That's far short of the 12,000 the school had to buy as part of its bowl contract -- the Big Ten covers the cost of the unsold seats -- but it's more than they sold to any of their previous three bowl appearances, all of which were to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.
Is that good? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Overall it's definitely not a pretty number. But other B1G schools in mediocre bowls aren't putting up good numbers either and it's nice to see a bump in numbers sold over previous years so looking at the wider picture I'd move this from "EWW" territory to a solid MEH." I'd also expect the final Gopher fan contingent to be larger as people get easy to find tickets off the secondary market.
- The PiPress takes a look at the native Texan Gophers as they return to their home state.
- Sid talks with Kill about the improved health of the Gophers.
- The WWL bloggers both pick Texas Tech to win. Nothing outrageous to complain about here, just a pair of safe, conventional picks.
Brian Bennett: The Red Raiders have an interim coach, and Minnesota has had a month to heal the many injuries that ravaged its offense late in the season, both of which are positives for the Gophers. I think Matt Limegrover will find some creative ways to use MarQueis Gray. Still, Minnesota lacks the weapons to go up and down the field against a high-scoring Big 12 team. Michael Carter and the Gophers secondary will make some plays but not enough to stop Texas Tech, which pulls away after a close first two-and-half quarters. ... Texas Tech 31, Minnesota 17.
Adam Rittenberg: The Gophers' defense is much improved in Year 2 under Tracy Claeys, but you need a decent amount of offensive firepower to keep pace with Texas Tech. Like you, my concern is the lack of playmakers surrounding Philip Nelson and Gray. Both men will see time at quarterback and help the Gophers take a first-half lead, but a Minnesota turnover changes the game and Texas Tech strikes for two fourth-quarter passing touchdowns to win. ... Texas Tech 34, Minnesota 21