HOUSTON – Minnesota will look to snap a 4-bowl losing streak and Texas Tech will try to overcome the loss of its head coach when the two teams tangle in the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. The Red Raiders will represent the Big 12 Conference and the Golden Gophers will represent the Big Ten Conference in the Friday, December 28 game (9 p.m. EST) that will be televised nationally on ESPN.
"We are thrilled to welcome Texas Tech back to Houston for its first time since 2003," said Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas executive director Heather Houston. "We feel that the Red Raiders will be a great match for Minnesota and that football fans in Houston will love their exciting offense."
The Red Raiders were 7-5 during the regular season and then were caught by complete surprise when Tommy Tuberville was announced as the new head coach at Cincinnati on December 8, opting to leave after three seasons in Lubbock to replace Butch Jones. Tuberville was 20-17 in three seasons in Lubbock with all of the losses coming in conference games (9-17).
Offensive line coach Chris Thomsen was tapped to lead the Red Raiders in the bowl game before he makes way for incoming head coach Kliff Kingsbury. The former record-setting Texas Tech QB was the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M where QB Johnny Manziel won the 2012 Heisman Trophy. Now age 33, Kingsbury set 39 school, 16 conference and 17 NCAA records under his head coach, Mike Leach, from 1999-2002.
Texas Tech features a dynamic offensive attack directed by the passing of senior QB Seth Doege, who finished the season with 3,934 passing yards and 38 passing touchdowns. Doege ranks fourth in the nation in passing and sixth in passing yards per game. The wide receiver duo of senior Darrin Moore and junior Eric Ward combined for 1,922 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns this season.
Defensively, the Red Raiders are led by senior defensive back Cody Davis, who leads the team with 82 tackles and three interceptions on the year. Junior defensive end Kerry Hyder led Texas Tech on the defensive line with his 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Texas Tech saw an 11-season bowl appearance streak end last year when the team turned in a 5-7 record. The Red Raiders have won four of their last five bowl games, including their last in 2010 when they defeated Northwestern 45-38 in the Cotton Bowl.
"The Minnesota Golden Gophers are a team on the rise with an exciting offense and we look forward to hosting their fans here in Houston for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas," said Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas executive director Heather Houston.
The Golden Gophers (6-6), led by head coach Jerry Kill, run a balanced attack keyed by the running of sophomore RB Donnell Kirkwood, who finished the season with 849 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. The quarterback trio of sophomore Max Shortell, freshman Philip Nelson and senior QB/WR MarQuies Gray combined to pass for 2,052 yards and 17 touchdowns on the year.
Defensively, the Gophers are led by four all-conference standouts. Senior second-team All-Big Ten DE D.L. Wilhite tied for second in the conference with 8.5 sacks, while his 11 tackles for loss ranked 11th in the conference. Senior CB Michael Carter, junior DT Ra’Shede Hageman and senior CB Troy Stoudermire each earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. Stoudermire and Carter helped the Gophers rank 11th nationally in pass defense, allowing a mere 178.5 yards per game through the air.
Minnesota is winless in postseason play since defeating Alabama 20-16 in the 2004 Music City Bowl. A Golden Gopher victory would also improve the Big Ten’s record in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas to 2-1 following Illinois’ 38-14 win over Baylor in 2010 and Northwestern’s 33-22 loss to Texas A&M last year.
The Congrove Computer Rankings project Texas Tech as a 12.18-point favorite.