Dude, Where's My Car Parts Bowl? - Previewing Minnesota vs. Texas Tech

Michael C. Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Time to kick off the real (read: B1G) bowl season with the only game that matters.

OPENING THOUGHTS

As I mentioned in the comment thread of JDMill's recent article, I'm very zen about this game. I'm excited the Gophers made a bowl, both because of the extra 15 practices they got and because I get to watch more Gopher football. But I'm also very relaxed about any potential outcomes. A win will get me very excited, but I also know it won't mean much in the big picture. A loss, especially a blowout loss, will be disappointing but ultimately I'll move on very quickly and be past it by the time the Gophers drop the puck against Air Force tomorrow night. This bowl is a step in the right direction, but regardless of the outcome it is only one step in a trip back to greater competitiveness.

THE BASICS

When and Where:

8pm, Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX

Media

TV: ESPN

Radio: KFAN (100.3 FM in the Twin Cities) and the Gopher Radio Network (Radio Affiliates). You can also listen to the game via the IHeartRadio app for your mobile device.

Weather Forecast:

In my neck of the woods it will look something like this...

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via debtorby.typepad.com

Which is not a big deal because my tailgate will look like this:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


Wait, you mean you wanted to know what the weather was in Houston? Why? It's a domed stadium. As EA Sports' NCAA Football always reminds us, the weather for a domed game is always DOME.

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via imherehesthere.files.wordpress.com

THE ENEMY

Last Season:

After 7 games the Red Raiders were 5-2, had just upset #1 Oklahoma on the road, and were ranked #22 in the country. They proceeded to lose 5 in a row to miss a bowl game. Needless to say, that finish would prove to be a big reason why TTU fans are so happy that Tommy Tuberville is no longer with them.

2012 Season To Date:

7-5 (4-5 Big 12) and going through a coaching transition. That's how this season ended up for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders started hot again, sitting at 6-1 after 7 games (including wins over then #4 West Virginia and #21 TCU with the only loss coming to then #14 Oklahoma). After that? Another implosion, with a squeeker 2OT win over a horrid Kansas team coming as the 7th win. Following the season, head coach Tommy Tuberville bolted for Cincy (also departed are OC Neal Brown and RB coach Chad Scott). The Red Raiders have hired alum and local hero Kliff Kinsbur to lead the team moving forward. In case you missed the memo, this move has given this year's team a bountiful supply of SWAGGA!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

General Notes:

- The Gophers are 0-1 all time against Texas Tech. You might recall that game.

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via 2.bp.blogspot.com

- Tech students have a tradition called "Tortilla Tossing." It's what you think:

TORTILLA TOSSING
This football game activity brings sheer joy to many frenzied students and misery to the Tech administration, not to mention the numerous "delay of game" penalties it has brought to the football team. Tortilla tossing began sometime in the early 1990s, most likely 1994, and has continued sporadically since. Current students call it a tradition, but those graduating before the mid-1990s call it poor sportsmanship and silly. Although when this activity started is known, exactly why tortillas are tossed sky-high is a mystery.

- Did I mention the SWAGGA?

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via fistintheair.com

- Raider Red is not the only mascot for Texas Tech. Like Purdue and Nebraska, they have two. Unlike Purdue and Nebraska, Texas Tech's is famous. Perhaps you've heard of Zorro? Sure, they call their oldest mascot the "The Masked Rider" but I think we all know that's just to avoid getting sued by Hollywood:

Texas_tech_zorro_medium

(Photo Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports)

Coaches:

Interim Head Coach: Chris Thomsen (1st Game).

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via wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net

Thomsen is the O-Line coach for the Red Raiders and has stepped up to cover head coaching duties following Tommy Tuberville's departure.

Offensive Coordinator: Sonny Cumbie (1st Game).

While not listed as the interim OC on TTech's website, all reports have him listed as the playcalling replacement to departed OC Neal Brown.

Defensive Coordinator: Art Kaufman (1st Season).

The Offense:

- Rushing Offense: 87th; 139.50 ypg

- Passing Offense: 2nd: 361.92 ypg

- Passing Efficiency: 7th; 157.51 rating

- Total Offense: 12th; 501.42 ypg

- Scoring Offense: 18th; 37.75 ppg

- 3rd Down Efficiency: 14th; 48.45%

- Red Zone Efficiency: 23rd; 87%

The Defense:

- Rushing Defense: 72nd; 171.42 ypg

- Passing Defense: 22nd: 195.83 ypg

- Passing Efficiency Defense: 52nd; 129.73 rating

- Total Defense: 39th; 367.25 ypg

- Scoring Defense: 90th; 31.83 ppg

- Turnover Margin: 106th; -1.00

- 3rd Down Defense: 52nd; 38.95%

- Red Zone Defense: 88th; 86%

Special Teams:

- Kickoff Returns: 58th; 21.66 ypr

- Punt Returns: 34th; 10.53 ypr

- Net Punting: 92nd; 35.38 ypp

- Kick Return Defense: 55th; 20.96 ypr

- Punt Return Defense: 118th; 13.60 ypr

Keys to the Game:

- Stop the pass, stop the pass, stop the pass: In case you aren't aware, TTU sort of throws the ball well and a lot. The Gophers need to avoid giving up the big play and hold the Red Raiders in check through the air. If they do this, it will greatly improve their chances of winning. If QB Seth Doege is able to complete a high % of his throws and efficiently move the ball the Gophers don't stand a chance.

- Establish the run and control the clock: The Gopher running game MUST show up and perform. If MarQueis Gray is fully healed and plays a good number of snaps I think we have a chance to put up good numbers on the ground. A fully healthy O-line will also be key. Time of possession is a mostly meaningless stat IMO, but in a game like this it's important that we keep Tech's offense off the field as much as possible.

- Win the turnover battle: Personally, I think the Gophers lose if they turn the ball over even once. But if they hold onto the ball and force 1 or 2 Red Raider TO's, they could be in business.

- ALL THE BOURBONS: This one is directed at all of you. Have fun (responsibly of course) and enjoy the game no matter the outcome. It's the holiday season and it's a Friday night. Get together with friends or make some new ones at a sports bar. Whatever you do, relish tonight because it's the last Gopher football game we get to enjoy until next August!

Completely Worthless Prediction:

I'd love to say that the Gophers pull the upset, but the realist in me can't go that far. I think the Gophers gameplan their way into a solid defensive effort against Tech's high flying offense. They pick up an interception (call it Michael Carter) but Philip Nelson throws one of his own. The running game gets going, but we continue to struggle through the air late. In the end, it's a closer loss than many predicted and nothing to be cranky about. Red Raiders 28, Gophers 17.

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