Good afternoon from Ford Field in Detroit, where the Gophers (6-6) will meet Georgia Tech (7-5) in the Quick Lane Bowl (4:15 p.m. Central, ESPN). Minnesota will try to extend its bowl winning streak to three games in coach P.J. Fleck’s first bowl game with the Gophers. The streak started in this bowl in 2015 with a 21-14 victory over Central Michigan, and the 17-12 upset of Washington State in the 2016 Holiday Bowl was the second bowl win in a row.
The Gophers defense was missing three key players Wednesday. Starting linebacker Kamal Martin was not in pregame warmups, while starting defensive tackle O.J. Smith and backup tackle Jamaal Teague were on the sideline in a jersey and track pants, along other injured players.
Last week, coach P.J. Fleck said “a starter or starters'' could miss the game because of a violation of team rules. He would not say what rule was violated.
Earlier this month, senior linebacker Blake Cashman, the team's leading tackler, decided not to play in the bowl game so he could prepare for a possible NFL career.
The offensive line also had a change. With senior left tackle Donnell Greene opting out of the Quick Lane Bowl to undergo knee surgery and prepare for the NFL draft, redshirt freshman Blaise Andries moved from right guard to left tackle during warmups. True freshman Curtis Dunlap Jr. started at right guard, next to his IMG Academy teammate, Daniel Faalele, the right tackle.
Today’s game offers junior receiver Tyler Johnson a chance to add to his standout season. Johnson has 74 receptions for 1,112 yards and 10 touchdowns. He needs 14 receiving yard to pass Ron Johnson’s single-season yardage record of 1,125, set in 2000. Tyler Johnson also is two touchdown receptions away from breaking the single-season mark of 11 set by Omar Douglas in 1993 and tied by Ron Johnson in 2000. And if Tyler Johnson catches 11 passes, he would pass Ron Johnson’s receptions mark of 84 set in 2000.
Redshirt freshman running back Mohamed Ibrahim has rushed for 936 yards in nine games this season, and would reach 1,000 with 64 yards today. Ibrahim sits in third place on Minnesota’s single-season freshman rushing list. Darrell Thompson leads with 1,376 yards in 1986, followed by Laurence Maroney with 1,121 in 2003.
Other tidbits on today’s game:
** This is the Gophers’ 20th bowl game, and they are 7-12. Their 2015 Quick Lane Bowl win ended a seven-game bowl losing streak.
** The Gophers have mostly played close games in bowls, with 12 decided by one score. The average score in Minnesota’s bowl games is: Opponent 22.2, Gophers 22.0.