Two teams who missed the postseason last year have relocated their bowling shoes and will meet up in Detroit for a clash in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Minnesota (6-6) and Georgia Tech (7-5) go head-to-head on Dec. 26 in the Motor City in a football version of the B1G-ACC Challenge. The Gophers are trying to end the year above .500 while the Yellow Jackets are hoping to send head coach Paul Johnson out on a positive note.
Both teams endured rough stretches this season, but both were also able to get those things corrected at the end of the season. It should make for an entertaining matchup in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Here are five things to know about Georgia Tech and the challenges it presents to Minnesota:
End of an era
After 11 seasons in Atlanta, Johnson is stepping away from Georgia Tech, and football, following the team’s Quick Lane Bowl game against the Gophers. Johnson guided the Yellow Jackets to nine bowl appearances, four ACC Coastal titles and one conference championship. He was 82-59 with Georgia Tech. It’ll be an emotional game in Detroit, to say the least.
Not many coaches or programs utilize the triple-option offense, but Georgia Tech runs the system with extreme efficiency. Four different players have rushed for over 500 yards this season and the Yellow Jackets lead the nation in rushing yardage, averaging 334.92 yards per game. And don’t expect many passes. Georgia Tech threw fewer than 10 passes in seven games this season, and less than five passes in four of those games. The triple-options is a pain to defend, but it sure can be fun to watch.
A postseason filled with firsts
In his last game as head coach, Johnson is going to experience a few firsts. Georgia Tech’s trip to Detroit marks the first time the program has played in a bowl game in the Motor City. It’ll also be the first time the Yellow Jackets have played Minnesota on the gridiron. Johnson has been involved with the game a long time and he still hasn’t seen everything.
There weren’t a lot of Yellow Jackets to earn All-ACC honors this fall, but punter Pressley Harvin III was a second-team special teams player. And if he was required more frequently, he probably would’ve been first-team. Harvin averaged 44.26 yards per boot this season, good enough to lead the conference and ranked 14th nationally. He could be the difference if the game turns into a field position battle.
Slow start, strong finish
Georgia Tech started the year off like molasses. It was 1-3 and struggled to operate offensively. But after that first month of the season, things really picked up in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets closed the year with wins in six of their final eight games, with losses only to Duke and Georgia. While a 7-5 record usually isn’t very intimidating headed into the postseason, Tech has been one of the hottest teams in the sport over the last two months.