2012 Meineke - Texas Tech 34, Minnesota 31

Posted Dec 29, 2012

2012-2013 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas

2012 Meineke

Texas Tech 34, Minn. 31

- 2012-2013 CFN Bowl Central

- CFN Thoughts and Analysis on the Meineke Car Care Bowl 

National Rankings
111th Total Offense 12th
29th Total Defense 39th
97th Scoring Offense 18th
39th Scoring Defense 91st
79th Rushing Offense 86th
75th Run Defense 72nd
105th Passing Offense 2nd
11th Passing Defense 23rd
74th Turnover Margin 106th
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
M   T
3.5 Quarterbacks 4.5
3 RBs 3
2 Receivers 5
3 O Line 3
2.5 D Line 2.5
3 Linebackers 3
3.5 Secondary 3
3 Spec Teams 3
4.5 Coaching 2
(AP) HOUSTON -- D.J. Johnson returned an interception 39 yards and Ryan Bustin made a 28-yard field goal as time expired to give Texas Tech a 34-31 comeback victory over Minnesota on Friday night in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Seth Doege found Eric Ward on a short pass, and he outran a defender for a 35-yard scoring play to pull the Red Raiders even at 31 with just more than a minute remaining.

Michael Carter intercepted two of Doege's passes in the fourth quarter before the tying score, but Minnesota couldn't convert either of the turnovers into points.

The Red Raiders (8-5) got their third straight bowl win to wrap up a month that began with coach Tommy Tuberville's abrupt departure for the job at Cincinnati. Texas Tech has hired Kliff Kingsbury to replace him, but interim coach Chris Thomsen led the team against Minnesota (6-7). Kingsbury was at the game, watching from a suite.

Doege threw for 271 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score in front of a crowd that included 1977 Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell and former Tech coach Spike Dykes.

Philip Nelson threw for 138 yards and two scores for the Gophers, who were in a bowl game for the first time since 2009.

The Red Raiders returned to a bowl after having their 18-season bowl streak snapped last year.

A 1-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to Drew Goodger gave Minnesota a 31-24 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Texas Tech led 24-17 at halftime, but couldn't do anything offensively in the second half until the last couple of minutes. It was an ugly game for the Red Raiders, who had 13 penalties for 135 yards and lost the tight end Jace Amaro when he was ejected for throwing a punch.

Jakeem Grant ran for what was initially ruled a touchdown for Tech late in the third quarter. Amaro threw a punch at Derrick Wells in the end zone on the play and was ejected.

After the penalty, the play was reviewed and overturned. Doege threw an incomplete pass before Tech made a 32-yard field goal. But the Red Raiders had a false start penalty on the play and had to kick again and this time the Gophers blocked it.

Nelson threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Devin Crawford-Tufts, who was left uncovered in the end zone, to tie it at 24 early in the third quarter.

Donnell Kirkwood scored on a 3-yard run to leave Minnesota up 17-14 early in the second quarter.

Texas Tech had a first-and-goal at the Minnesota 2 after a pass-interference call on the Gophers. But Texas Tech had to settle for a field goal after a rush for a 3-yard loss and two penalties.

Minnesota's next drive started out well before turning ugly. The Gophers had made two first downs before Gray was sacked for a loss of seven yards. Kirkwood ran for 17 yards on the next play, but Minnesota received two 15-yard penalties on the play, one for a personal foul on lineman Zac Epping, to make it second-and-42. Epping received a second personal foul penalty on the next play to bring up third-and-49.

Christian Eldred shanked the punt, giving Texas Tech the ball at the Minnesota 42.

The Red Raiders capitalized on their great field position when Doege spun away from a defender in the backfield and leaped over another Gopher near the goal line on a 4-yard touchdown run. Tech converted a fourth-and-6 play on that drive, and led 24-17 at halftime.

Minnesota's Rodrick Williams Jr. scored on a 2-yard run to give the Gophers a 10-7 lead in the first quarter.

Doege lost his helmet on a 5-yard scramble on Tech's next drive and had to go out for one play. He was replaced by Michael Brewer, who found Derreck Edwards for a 13-yard touchdown pass to give the Red Raiders a 14-10 lead.

Minnesota's Troy Stoudermire returned the opening kickoff 26 yards to break the NCAA record for career kickoff return yards. He finished the game with 111 yards to push his total to 3,615.

The Gophers ended that drive with a 41-yard field goal to make it 3-0.

Texas Tech's Grant returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown to put Texas Tech up 7-3.

Texas Tech (7-5) at Minnesota (6-6)
Dec. 28, 5:30, ESPN

Here's The Deal … When we last saw Minnesota and Texas Tech play, the Red Raiders mounted one of the greatest comebacks in bowl history to win the 2006 Insight Bowl 44-41 in overtime. It took a miraculous field goal and several stunning plays to make it happen, and if anything had gone the other way, Glen Mason probably wouldn't have been fired and Minnesota football would've gone in an entirely different direction.

Texas Tech is undergoing a major change of its own with Tommy Tuberville stunningly leaving for the Cincinnati head coaching job – with some thinking he left before he was asked to leave – and offensive line coach Chris Thomsen taking over before Kliff Kingsbury can step in and make Texas Tech into Texas Tech again.

At least that's the hope.

It's not like the Red Raider offense struggled or suffered since Mike Leach was pushed out, finishing 12th in the nation in total offense and second in passing, averaging 362 yards per game. However, for the second straight season, the team crashed down the stretch losing four of the final five games after getting out to a 6-1 start. The defense that started off so well was miserable, giving up 52 points or more in four of the final six games, while the offense couldn't keep up the pace. Winning a bowl game won't mean too much considering the coaching change, but it would set the bar at a higher level for Kingsbury.

Minnesota is still fighting to get back to respectability after the problems under former head coach Tim Brewster. Jerry Kill has had to make chicken salad out of chicken feathers with two straight 3-9 seasons before getting to six wins and bringing the Gophers back to a bowl game for the first time since losing the 2009 Insight Bowl to Iowa State.

Through seizure problems on and off the field, and with a team that doesn't have the talent to do much against the better Big Ten teams, Kill has been doing what he can, and yes, it's a very big deal for the program to get back to the post-season. A win would mean just the second winning season since 2005 and it would be the first bowl victory since a 20-16 win over Alabama in the 2004 Music City. On the flip side, Texas Tech has been an outstanding bowl team winning seven of its last nine, including two in a row and four of the last five before missing out last year.

The Meineke is overdue for a good game with blowouts in the last four and in five of the last six. Last year, Texas A&M beat Northwestern 33-22, but that was a battle compared to some of the recent disasters. In all, just three of the 12 Meinkes have been decided by a touchdown or less.

Players to Watch: It has been a long and interesting journey for Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege, who missed the final season of his high school career hurt, waited his turn to be the Red Raider starter, and came up with a decent few seasons with a chance to cap things off on a high note. He never put up the astronomical numbers of past Tech bombers, but he has had more than his share of big moments, most notably a win over Oklahoma last year and a two game stretch this season with six touchdown passes against West Virginia and seven against TCU. Interceptions have been a problem with six in the last three games, but he continues to push the ball and the offense and isn't going to go down without throwing at least 40 more passes.

Who will play quarterback for the Gophers? Senior MarQueis Gray came to Minnesota as one of the nation's top dual-threat quarterbacks, but injuries and a woeful lack of talent around him have led to an uneven and somewhat disappointing career. Moved to receiver to help take the pressure off after getting hurt, now he's getting healthy and could be back under center after throwing for just 464 yards and five scores, and running for five touchdowns, in his limited action.

Freshman Phillip Nelson is a big part of the future and should end up getting a bulk of the work, however, he was awful late in the year throwing five picks and no touchdown passes against Nebraska and Michigan State, and failing to hit the 100-yard mark in passing in the final three games.

For the Red Raiders, the main target for Doege and the hot star in the offense has been senior Darrin Moore, who finished up the regular season with 13 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns against Baylor, and with five touchdown grabs on his 31 catches over the final three games. At 6-4 and 214 pounds he has great size and the hands to suck in everything that comes his way, and with his experience, Doege can always count on him.

Texas Tech will win if … it can make this a shootout. Minnesota doesn't have the personnel to keep up in any sort of a firefight with a passing game that's averaging just 171 yards per game and isn't getting anything moving down the field. Yes, the Gophers are 11th in the nation in pass defense, but that's because they haven't faced anyone who throws the ball since dealing with Syracuse in mid-September. A decent early lead will make the Minnesota offense press, and then there should be big, big problems. Gray is a decent receiver, but he's not the type who can make 15 grabs and carry a passing game by himself – unless he's the one throwing the ball. Doege and the Tech passing attack will be relentless.

The other big key will be turnover margin. Tech was way too loose to close out the season with eight turnovers in the final three games and with just ten takeaways on the year. The defense hasn't been aggressive enough at getting into the backfield and it hasn't made a slew of big plays on a regular basis, but the shortcomings shouldn't be much of an issue against the anemic Gopher attack.

Minnesota will win if … the ground game works right away. The offensive line was supposed to be a major strength coming into the season, and despite injuries and other issues, it hasn't been bad. This is the type of game for the front five to line up and blast away. The pass protection has been solid – Gopher quarterbacks should get ten days to throw – and the Tech defensive front should get shoved around at will. Over the last three games of the regular season, the Red Raiders allowed 390 yards to Kansas, 256 to Oklahoma State and 278 to Baylor. The D has picked the wrong time to be bad.

Gray has to be tremendous. Tech couldn't handle Collin Klein as either a runner or a passer. Baylor's Nick Florence threw at will and ran for 51 yards and a score, while Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf threw for 229 yards and three scores while running for 40 yards. If it's Gray under center, he has to use all of his experience and all of his skills to keep the chains moving in a variety of ways, and if he's at receiver, the coaching staff has to make sure No. 5 has the ball in his hands in some way at least 20 times.

What Will Happen: Kill will have the Gophers ready. Go back to earlier in the season when the defense rose up and stunned Syracuse, keeping everything underneath and preventing Ryan Nassib from pushing the ball deep. The linebackers kept short plays from becoming big ones, and the secondary was able to come up with two timely picks. The offense didn't really work – the ground game only managed 106 yards – but the D was able to keep the bomber from bombing. The same held true for Western Michigan's Alex Carder, turning him into purely a dink and dunk passer, and Purdue failed to get much going when it had to start throwing to keep up. Expect more of the same.

Minnesota will run just well enough to take control of the game, while the defense won't let Doege get into much of a rhythm. Basically, Kill will outcoach Thomsen.

CFN Prediction: Minnesota 27 … Texas Tech 24
ATS Consultants Line
(Click for more lines and picks)  Texas Tech -12.5 O/U: 57

Meineke Bowl History
2012 Texas Tech 34, Minnesota 31
2011 Texas A&M 33, Northwestern 22
2010 South Florida 31, Clemson 26
2009 Pitt 19, North Carolina 17
2008 West Virginia 31, North Carolina 30
2007 Wake Forest 24, Connecticut 10
2006 Boston Coll 25, Navy 24
2005 NC St 14, South Florida 0
2004 Boston Col 37, North Carolina 24