On the day after Christmas, Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan will host the 5th annual Quick Lane Bowl which will feature the Big Ten’s Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
The Golden Gophers are coming off of a regular season which saw them finish 6-6 overall (3-6 in the Big Ten West) in their second season under head coach P.J. Fleck. Minnesota’s most impressive win came in their final game when the went on the road and defeated Wisconsin 37-15.
As far as the Yellow Jackets go, they finished the regular season with a 7-5 record (5-3 in the ACC) under the tutelage of head coach Paul Johnson, who has announced he is retiring at the conclusion of the season. Prior to dropping their final game of the regular season to Georgia, Georgia Tech had won four-straight games, including impressive wins at Virginia Tech and at home over Miami and Virginia.
Quick Lane Bowl Preview
When: December 26th, 5:15 PM
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
How to watch: ESPN
When Georgia Tech has the ball
If you have followed college football for the past decade or so, you are probably aware of the fact that Georgia Tech absolutely loves to run the football. In fact, in 2018, the Yellow Jackets averaged 58.4 rushing attempts a game compared to just 9.5 passing attempts. Their 325.5 rushing yards per game ranks them No. 1 in all of college football.
So, the question is, will Minnesota be able to slow down the Georgia Tech rushing offense on first and second down, forcing them into third and long situations?
The answer to that question is, no.
The Yellow Jackets will be led by quarterback TaQuon Marshall and running back Tobias Oliver, both who rushed for over 800 yards and 11 and 12 touchdowns respectively. Overall, they had four players with over 100 rushing attempts on the season, all rushing for well over 500 yards apiece.
Overall, the Golden Gophers bring the No. 59 ranked total defense into the game but when it comes to stopping the run, they are No. 72 after giving up 170.7 yards per contest. Those numbers could be even worse against Georgia Tech as Minnesota’s leading tackler LB Blake Cashman, is skipping the game to prepare for the NFL Draft.
You can fully expect the Yellow Jackets to do their thing rushing the football down the throat of the Golden Gophers defense.
When Minnesota has the ball
Minnesota’s offense, which comes in ranked No. 81 in total yards, struggled in both the passing game (No. 80) and the running game (No. 65).
They will be led by a pair of freshman running backs, Mohamed Ibrahim and Bryce Williams. Ibrahim carried the ball 171 times for 936 yards (5.5 ypc) and seven touchdowns, while Williams had 116 attempts for 500 yards (4.3 ypc) and four touchdowns.
The Golden Gophers also have a freshman quarterback in Tanner Morgan, who has been starting since taking over for fellow freshman signal-caller Zach Annexstad in late October. Morgan has been more of a game manager than a game changer as he has thrown for over 200 yards on three occasions this season.
The key for Minnesota will be establishing a rushing attack early and often against the No. 50 rush defense of Georgia Tech.
Though I believe Ibrahim and Williams will have some success rushing the football, it will not be enough to keep pace with the Yellow Jackets offense that should put up over 30 points in the game.
This game is going to be about which team can run the ball and which team can stop the run most efficiently.
Without Blake Cashman, the Golden Gophers will truly have their work cut out for them and Georgia Tech will absolutely capitalize early and often
If the Yellow Jackets can get a double-digit lead, which they will, it will be very difficult for Minnesota to come back and win.
(-6) Georgia Tech 34 Minnesota 24
“Trading One Uniform for Another”
For 2018, Quick Lane is proud to announce the third year of Trading One Uniform for Another – our scholarship program dedicated to helping support military veterans and first responders. With it, we’re providing the opportunity for such deserving heroes to apply for or get nominated to receive one of five $10,000 scholarships to an accredited school offering an automotive mechanic certification program. Look for scholarship recipients to be awarded at this year’s Quick Lane Bowl.
*In the spirit of full-disclosure, I’ve partnered with Quick Lane as part of the Quick Lane Bowl Preferred Influencer Program. I’ll be receiving special access to the Quick Lane Bowl, however, no payment was given or expected for posting about the program and, as always, all opinions given here are fully my own.
I am currently a member of the Quick Lane Bowl Preferred Influencer Program and this post is part of my involvement. While Quick Lane provides me material and necessary resources to complete various activities, all statements and sentiment in Detroit Sports Nation are my own.