The Big Ten and ACC clash in the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit, as the Minnesota Golden Gophers take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. This is the retirement party for Paul Johnson. After 40 years of coaching and 11 years at Georgia Tech, Johnson will give football up for retirement. 61 years old for a college football coach feels young considering how old some of these guys retire at.
There were certainly better aspirations for the Yellow Jackets than going to the Quick Lane Bowl at the start of the year. However, it’s nice to at least get one more game and a chance to go out with a bowl win. Johnson has gone to eight bowl games with Georgia Tech and won three: 2012 Sun Bowl, 2014 Orange Bowl, and 2016 Gator (TaxSlayer) Bowl. He also won the Poinsettia Bowl and Emerald Bowl with Navy.
Johnson is best known for revolutionizing the triple-option offense. No one has been able to get as consistent results as he has operating the three-pronged attack. When his teams at their best, he has a quarterback that is capable of passing the football a bit as well.
His current QB, TaQuon Marshall, can do that, but hasn’t looked as sharp as last season. Any quarterback that can show any ability to throw the ball sets up the option on the ground in a much better position. Georgia Tech enters Detroit with a record of 7-5 after suffering a 45-21 loss against Georgia in the season finale.
Minnesota squeaked into a bowl game with a record of 6-6. They stay in Big Ten country and don’t have to travel far to Michigan for this one. Some bowl game destinations like the Bahamas Bowl might have distractions, but there shouldn’t be any distractions in Detroit. The Gophers upset Wisconsin on the road to become bowl eligible. Two of their last three games resulted in straight up wins as underdogs, a 10-point dog to Purdue and 12 points against the Badgers.
P.J. Fleck went 5-7 as a rookie with Minnesota a season ago, so they improve by one game and go bowling. It’s still abundantly clear that Fleck must find a quarterback on the recruiting trail, through a transfer, or develop Annexstad of Tanner Morgan. Minnesota hasn’t had a reliable QB since Adam Weber. That has to change under Fleck. Get our free Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech pick in the Quick Lane Bowl below.
Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Quick Lane Bowl Betting Odds:
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech Pick:
Minnesota has a wide receiver that might be the most pro ready since Eric Decker. Tyler Johnson will be looking to the NFL soon, which could come after this game. The junior has the option of returning for his senior season or going pro. He’s hauled in 74 balls for 1,112 yards and 10 touchdowns. That’s impressive, but it’s even more impressive given the carousel of quarterbacks that he’s been working with.
The Gophers have cycled through Zack Annexstad and Tanner Morgan this season with results that have been up and down. Note that both are freshmen, so bumps along the way are expected. Annexstad has thrown 9 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, while Morgan has thrown 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Both are pro style quarterbacks that don’t provide much in the way of mobility.
Minnesota has averaged 379 yards per game behind an efficient ground game. Mohamed Ibrahim has led the running attack with 936 yards. He’s eclipsed the 100-yard mark four times, including his most recent effort against Wisconsin for 121 yards. The Golden Gophers will keep it on the ground and pound the ball. But this also might be a good opportunity to give a freshman quarterback some experience in a bowl game.
The Gophers have run the ball well, but they are matched up with the top rushing team in the nation on Wednesday. Georgia Tech, behind a prolific triple-option attack, have averaged a whopping 334.9 yards per game on the ground for 1st in the FBS.
Between Marshall and Tobias Oliver at quarterback, Tech have thrown 7 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s enough to keep the secondary from creeping up too much. The Gophers are 76th in the FBS with 170.7 yards allowed per game. That number is going to get skewed up after Wednesday. The Jackets were on a four-game winning streak and winners in six of seven games before they had to play a very good Georgia squad. In what is Paul Johnson’s final game, expect his team to give him a late Christmas gift on Boxing Day with a win over Minnesota in the Quick Lane Bowl.