MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota will get another crack at Texas Tech in a bowl game, six years after the Gophers suffered an epic meltdown against the Red Raiders.
The Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston announced Sunday night that Minnesota will face Texas Tech on Dec. 28.
It’s the first bowl appearance since 2009 for the Gophers (6-6), who reached the postseason despite winning just two Big Ten games.
“It’s a tremendous honor to go to Houston,” Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said. “This is a big boost for us.”
Texas Tech (7-5) returns to the postseason after a one-year absence. The Red Raiders dropped their final regular-season game to Baylor in overtime, 52-45, but they beat the likes of West Virginia and TCU and doubled their Big 12 win total from last season.
“The opportunity to play another game in Texas is huge for our team, our fans and for recruiting. Minnesota is a talented football team and we will have our hands full the next couple of weeks in our preparations,” Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said.
Minnesota and Texas Tech played each other in the 2006 Insight Bowl — when the Gophers blew a 31-point lead and lost 44-41 in OT — but both programs have new coaches.
The Gophers fired coach Glen Mason two days later. Texas Tech hired Tuberville before the 2011 season
Though Minnesota lost three of its last four games and finished tied for last in the Legends Division with Iowa, reaching a bowl will give the rebuilding Gophers 15 extra practices to work in their younger players.
The Gophers will be seeking their first bowl win since they beat Alabama 20-16 in the 2004 Music City Bowl.
“The bowl is important for us (because) No. 1, we recruit the state of Texas. No. 2, it’s a high-profile bowl,” said Kill, who added that he is doing “great” after suffering a seizure at halftime of a loss to Michigan State on Nov. 24. “The exposure the media gives you helps your program.”
The Red Raiders will be making their 35th bowl appearance, third-best among current Big 12 schools. They’ll also be playing their fourth straight bowl game in Texas after reaching the Cotton, Alamo and Ticket City bowls before missing out on a bid in 2011.
Texas Tech has played in the Houston-based bowl twice. In 2003, it blasted Navy 38-14.
The Red Raiders are again among the leaders in passing offense, ranking second nationally with 361.9 yards per game. But the Gophers are tough in the secondary, allowing less than half of what the Red Raiders typically rack up through the air.
“I’ve never seen a conference like the Big 12. You’ve got to score 50 points to win a game,” Tuberville said. ‘It’s a conference that’s very high-powered. We tried to keep up.”
Big Ten teams are 1-1 in this bowl. Illinois pounded Baylor 38-14 in 2010, and Northwestern fell to Texas A&M last year.
For Minnesota, a victory would be its seventh on the season — one more than it was able to rack up in 2010 and 2011 combined.
“We’ve been through some hard times,” said Minnesota senior defensive back Troy Stoudermire, a native of nearby Dallas. “Coach Kill did a great job getting us back bowl eligible.”