Up until the end of October this felt like a special season for Texas Tech, eventually turning into a good one, nothing more. The ending was looking grim, but disappointing senior quarterback Seth Doege eventually got going, threw a game tying touchdown that eventually set up the buzzer beating bowl game winning field goal.
In the Mienke Car Care Bowl of Texas Minnesota were on their way to win their first bowl game since 2004, but ended up destroying it in the end. First it was allowing Seth Doege to connect with Eric Ward for a 35 yard touchdown with 1:10 left, tying the game at 31. On the next drive, Minnesota’s quarterback, Philip Nelson, who managed not to mess things up throughout 95% of the game, threw an interception to D.J. Johnson, who returned if 41 yards. That set up the game winning field goal as time expires.
Doege threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter alone, both caught by Michael Carter, but managed to get it going after a disappointing performance from the number 2 passing attack in the nation, finishing with 31-45, 271 yards, a touchdown pass and two interceptions. D.J. Johnson also had his moment of redemption with the interception, blowing the coverage on big play in the third quarter.
More than anything I credit those players. They really held it together, and to get to make those plays after they struggled. They kept their poise and confidence and continued to stay in there and battle. As a team we just continued to fight and have faith and work together. This is a huge win for us as a group.
Chris Thomsen joins a long list of interim coaches that leads their team with some sort of chip on their shoulder into a bowl game and come out winning. Tommy Tuberville left suddenly in the beginning of the month to take the vacant job in Cincinnati. Kliff Kingsbury was hired to replace him, but Thomsen was the one who got to coach the players on Bowl day.
The Minnesota game plan was to simply run, run and run. They finished with 222 yards on 54 carries, scoring two touchdowns. They still got out-gained in total yards thanks to a decent performance on the ground from the Red Raiders, as Eric Stephens Jr. ran for 66 yards on 5 carries and Doege himself ran for Tech’s only rushing touchdown of the game.
For Tech, it was hopefully the renewal of tradition. After 18 consecutive bowl games, last season their streak was painfully over. This year they were 6-1 going into a huge game against Kansas State, losing that one and later to Texas on consecutive weeks, finishing the season with four losses out of their last five regular season games, with their defense unable to keep up with their aerial attack, losing to other high scoring teams like Baylor and Oklahoma State.
The offense wasn’t great and especially not consistent, especially in the second half. It also had a lot to do with discipline: they had 13 penalties for 135 yards and lost tight end Jace Amaro when he was ejected for throwing a punch. Minnesota had their fair share of penalties as well, once facing a third-and-49 because of personal fouls.