On December 29th, the Big 12 will face off against the Big 10 in Tempe, Arizona when Texas Tech (7-5) meets Minnesota (6-6). Each team will try to put a good finish on mediocre seasons that failed to meet much higher expectations.
With the offenses each team has, one has to think this will be a wild shootout.
The Red Raiders finished the season losing four of their final seven, but they were able to reach their seventh straight bowl appearance under Mike Leach, and 30th overall in school history. However, after a Cotton Bowl appearance last season, many feel this year as a step backwards.
The Texas Tech offense is not to blame as the passing game averaged 363.2 yards per game. QB Graham Harrell was able to throw 36 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions in Leach's spread offense.
It was the defense that caused some problems for the Red Raiders, especially after losing the Big 12 defensive player of the year in 2005, Dwayne Slay.
A win for Texas Tech would be big because, after all, they have a sophomore quarterback that is still learning the ropes under Leach. One of Harrell's favorite targets is wide receiver Joe Filani, a team captain who led the Big 12 this season with 1,138 yards and 12 touchdown receptions.
Minnesota lost five of their first seven games, then rebounded to win four of their last five after an awful 44-0 loss at the hands of No. 1 Ohio State. It will be the fifth straight bowl appearance for Minnesota, which is a school record. The Gophers will also be trying to avoid its first losing season since the 2001 campaign.
Just like Texas Tech, the Gophers have struggled at times defensively, especially in the passing game. The defense is giving up 253.5 yards through the air on average for the seventh-worst mark in the nation. That's not good news when they will be going up against one of the best passing games in the country.
Offensively Minnesota has been solid, as senior QB Bryan Cupito will wrap up his collegiate career after throwing 2,556 yards this year and 19 touchdowns.
Both teams relied heavily on their offenses this season as the Red Raiders averaged 41.9 points in their wins, but just 17.0 in their losses. The Gophers scored 40.7 in their six victories, only 15.2 in six defeats. With those numbers, it may be easy to figure out early on who will come out on top in this matchup.
Doug Kroll is an independent contributor to College Football Poll.com.