Guide to Big 12 bowl games: Texas Tech

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
(7-5) Texas Tech vs. (6-6) Minnesota 8:00 CT Fri, Dec. 28 | Reliant Stadium – Houston, TX
Texas Tech: Remember all the noise about the Red Raiders having the No. 1 defense in all of the FBS? It wasn’t a fluke. It really did happen. But, it happened after Tech’s non-conference slate of Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico. Big 12 Conference play brought a few servings of humble pie, and Tech has ended the regular season ranked 39th in the FBS for total defense, allowing 367 yards a game.

Tech closed on the wildest ride of any team in the conference, as three of its last six games went to overtime. After topping TCU in triple-OT, the Red Raiders finished out losing four of their final five games.

Despite what you may have read or heard about Tech’s improved running game, the Red Raiders did still lead the Big 12 in passing offense once again. Senior QB Seth Doege’s 38 touchdown passes was second-best in the FBS behind West Virginia’s Geno Smith (40).

Red Raiders in Bowls: The overall ledger is 12-21-1, the second-worst bowl winning percentage in the Big 12 behind Iowa State (3-8). However, since the 2002 season, Tech is 7-2, which is tied for the best conference bowl record among teams who have played in more than four games. Tech is 3-9 overall in bowl games played in its home state, but again, more successful recently. The Red Raiders did not play in a bowl last year, but had previously beaten Northwestern in the TicketCity Bowl (Dallas) and Michigan State in the Valero Alamo Bowl (San Antonio).

Actually, Tech’s win streak over the Big Ten in bowl games is three, going back to the last time it faced Minnesota in the 2006 Insight Bowl. In that game, Tech set an NCAA bowl record for the largest comeback to win. Down 31 points in the third quarter, Graham Harrell stormed the Red Raiders back to beat the Gophers in overtime.

Texas Tech is 1-2 in bowl games played in Houston, under three different names (see below). Tech beat Navy in the 2003 Houston Bowl, lost to East Carolina in the 2000 Bowl and lost to Nebraska in the 1976 Bluebonnet Bowl.

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: This is year two under this name, evolved from the Texas Bowl and operated by an arm of the NFL’s Houston Texans. It replaced the Houston Bowl, which died in 2005 in debt to the Big 12 and Mountain West Conferences. The Houston Bowl had evolved from the Bowl, which began in 2000, bringing postseason college football to Houston for the first time since the Bluebonnet Bowl’s extinction in after the 1987 game.

Minnesota: Finished in a tie for last place in the Big Ten’s Legends Division, the division won by Nebraska. They are in a bowl game for the first time since 2009. The last two years Minnesota won six games total. The Gophers’ conference wins in 2012 came over Illinois, who finished 0-8 in league play, and Purdue. Offense is where Minnesota struggles, ranked 111th in the FBS for total offense. Minnesota is hanging its hat this year on its defense, allowing less than 300 total points from opponents for the first time since 2004. The Gophers had the third-best defense against the pass in its conference, which we remind you again is the Big Ten.