QUICK LANE BOWL
MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (5-7) vs. CENTRAL MICHIGAN CHIPPEWAS (7-5)
Kickoff: 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT, Monday, Dec. 28
Las Vegas: Minnesota -6
5-7 bowl teams are undefeated thus far not only in the 2015 postseason, but in the history of sub-.500 squads receiving bowl bids. San Jose State and Nebraska’s wins don’t exactly vindicate the bowl system’s oversaturation, but the Spartans and Cornhuskers deserve kudos for honoring their respective games.
Minnesota can make it 3-for-3, and the Golden Gophers are heavily favored to do so.
Much like fellow Big Ten West 5-7 qualifier Nebraska, Minnesota’s record is deceptive. The Golden Gophers lost at the goal line to Michigan when interim-turned-permanent Jerry Kill replacement Tracy Claeys made some first-timer end-of-game management blunders.
They lost again to Big Ten West champion and Rose Bowl participant Iowa two weeks later by five points. Add a hard-fought Week 1 loss to TCU, when the Horned Frogs were as close to full strength as they’ve been all season, and Minnesota’s final record has clearer context.
The fascinating matchup that promises to shape this game is Minnesota’s pass defense, which ranks among the nation’s best, against a top 20-ranked Central Michigan aerial attack. Chippewa quarterback Cooper Rush went for more than 3,700 yards and scored 25 touchdowns on the season; the Golden Gophers, keyed by Briean Boddy-Calhoun, gave up almost half as many scores through the air.
Jalen Myrick’s return to the lineup further solidifies Minnesota’s outstanding pass defense. The inconsistent Gopher offense is ill-equipped for a #MACtion style shootout in the Motor City, but the strength of its defense ensures Minnesota won’t need to.
Chalk another up for the 5-7 Crew.