Minnesota Football 2012 Bowl Capsule

Minnesota Golden Gophers
Big Ten


Minnesota started the year 4-0. From there the goal was to find a way to win two Big Ten games and become bowl eligible. The team probably had loftier goals, but that was the realistic one. And the Golden Gophers accomplished that goal by knocking off Purdue and Illinois with a couple games to spare. Unfortunately, those two games at the end of the year went very poorly as the Gophers were dominated by Nebraska and Michigan State. This is not a team that has much positive momentum going into the bowl season.

2012 Record: 6-6, 2-6
Coach: Jerry Kill
Coach Bowl Record: 0-2

Big Wins: 9/22 at Syracuse (17-10), 11/10 at Illinois (17-3)
Bad Losses: 10/29 Northwestern (13-21), 11/24 Michigan State (10-26)

Minnesota’s defense has struggled against teams that like to run, but against passing teams they have been surprisingly effective. Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska all scored quite a few points against the Gophers since those are teams that like to stick to the ground, but passing offenses like Northwestern were relatively contained. Troy Stoudermire, Derrick Wells, Brock Vereen and Michael Carter form a very good secondary. They may not get as much attention as they deserve, but Minnesota can stack the box with more bodies to attempt to stop the run. That may not work against a team with a good quarterback and a couple quality wide receivers, but Minnesota does have some talent and Coach Jerry Kill has some options on the defensive side of the ball.

The offense has not been particularly good all year, but there are some major issues to work out before the bowl game. The Gophers managed a mere 96 total yards of offense against Michigan State. MarQueis Gray entered the season with high expectations as a big, strong rushing quarterback. After an ankle injury, Gray moved to wide receiver and has been relatively ineffective. Philip Nelson was the brief savior for Minnesota. The freshman came in and had a couple good games before coming back to reality. And the reality is that the Golden Gophers just do not have enough talent anywhere on the offense to consistently help out Nelson. Running back Donnell Kirkwood has managed to stay healthy and is a good back when the line can get him enough room to run. A.J. Barker emerged as the team’s go-to-receiver before opting to leave the team before the last game of the season. That leaves a lot of pressure on young, inexperienced receivers like Andre McDonald and Derrick Engel.  

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Donnell Kirkwood, RB, 849 yards
Passing: Max Shortell, QB, 853 yards
Receiving: A.J. Barker, WR, 577 yards
Tackles: Troy Stoudermire, CB, 78
Sacks: D.L. Wilhite, DE, 8.5
Interceptions: Five tied with 2

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 146.08 (79nd in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 171.42 (105, 9)
Total Offense: 317.50 (110, 10)
Scoring Offense: 21.33 (98, 9)
Rushing Defense: 174.25 (79, 9)
Pass Defense: 178.50 (11, 4)
Total Defense: 352.75    (29, 5)
Scoring Defense: 23.92 (40, 9)
Turnover Margin: -.25 (74, 8)
Sacks: 2.08 (50, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.50 (36, 4)

Recent Bowl Appearances:
2009    Insight Bowl        Iowa State (13-14)
2008    Insight Bowl        Kansas (21-42)
2006    Insight Bowl        Texas Tech (41-44)
2005    Music City Bowl    Virginia (31-34)
2004    Music City Bowl    Alabama (20-16)

*all team stats through 11/24


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