Six years ago, Texas Tech needed what was the biggest comeback in bowl history to beat Minnesota in the Insight Bowl 44-41 in overtime. The Red Raiders’ rally over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Friday night wasn’t quite as large, but nevertheless dramatic.
The Gophers led the Red Raiders 31-24 with just over one minute remaining in the game when TTU wide receiver Eric Ward caught a 35-yard pass from quarterback Seth Doege as part of a seven-play, 82-yard drive. Minnesota ran just three plays on its next possession before D.J. Johnson intercepted Philip Nelson and returned the turnover 41 yards to the Gopher 22-yard line. Two plays later, kicker Ryan Bustin made a 28-yard field goal as time expired.
Minnesota had a superb ground game with 222 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. Nelson wasn’t particularly efficient for the Gophers with just seven completions on 18 attempts for 138 yards, but he had a couple of scoring passes as well. The late interception, as one can imagine, was costly.
It was also an especially chippy game. Texas Tech alone had 13 penalties for 135 yard and there were 20 penalties for 220 yards between the two teams. Of those 20 penalties, nine were personal fouls with the two sides going at each other more than a couple of times after the whistles blew.
The 34-31 win was Texas Tech’s third straight bowl victory while Minnesota is still looking for its first bowl victory since the 2004 Music Bowl over Alabama. Still, Jerry Kill is doing a tremendous job in Minneapolis and this program is showing improvement under his watch. This heartbreaking loss is going to be tough to carry through the offseason, but there’s no doubt Kill has UM headed in the right direction.
On the other side, Texas Tech is looking forward to the beginning of the Kliff Kingsbury era in Lubbock. Kingsbury replaces Tommy Tuberville, who surprisingly left for Cincinnati earlier this month.