Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
The Minnesota Gophers are used to grinding out games on the ground in the Big Ten Conference. On December 28, the Gophers’ tough pass defence will be in the spotlight against Texas Tech’s high-powered passing attack. Seth Doege threw for almost 4,000 yards with 38 touchdowns this season, helping the Red Raiders rank second nationally in passing offence.
Going Back to Your Roots
The Red Raiders didn’t waste any time moving on after Tommy Tuberville skipped town for Cincinnati. They hired former Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury as their head coach just four days later. Kingsbury helped Johnny Manziel become a Heisman Trophy winner as a freshman while Texas A&M churned out better than 550 yards per game. Now the Red Raiders hope he can take their attack to another level. However, Texas Tech supporters will have to wait until next year to see Kingsbury’s impact on the club. Offensive line coordinator Chris Thomsen will serve as interim head coach against Minnesota.
Air it out
With a pair of big, physical receivers in Darrin Moore and Eric Ward both topping 900 receiving yards with double-digit touchdowns, Doege has some impressive weapons. The Raiders will use a good mix of short crossing routes and deep passes to keep the Gophers off balance. Minnesota ranks 11th in the country in pass defence, allowing just 178.5 yards per game through the air. However, the Gophers haven’t seen anything like Texas Tech’s passing attack yet. “It’ll be one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced all year, if not the biggest,” junior safety Brock Vereen told reporters. “Those wide splits and the quick outs make it a lot harder to get sacks, so coverage will be key.”
Nelson Takes Centre Stage
Minnesota freshman quarterback Philip Nelson is the Gophers’ big hope for the future, but it isn’t like he has next year’s starting job locked up. Since Nelson lit up Purdue at the end of October with three touchdowns, he has just one touchdown pass and five interceptions in four games. “One game will not make it,” offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover told reporters, “because (Nelson) had one good game against Purdue and look at what happened. Just because you have one good game, there’s a bigger factor to it.”
The Red Raiders’ attack will be too much for Minnesota. Texas Tech opens the game up after the half and cruises to a 33-17 victory.